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AZOOMA - A Hymn of the Vicious Monster
Band:   AZOOMA
Title: A Hymn of the Vicious Monster
CAT. #: XM 150 MCD
Format: MCD [34:07]
Genre: Death Metal
Released: 06.2014
buy it
Tracklist:
1. Preface (Intro)
2. Self-Inflected
3. Eridanus Supervoid
4. Encapsulated Delusion
5. Gyrocompass
6. Appendix (Outro)
Comment:
1st mini CD (6 songs/34 min.) by this impressive band from Iran that plays a top-quality Death Metal with great technical skills where they blend brutality and excellent melodies with influences in the vein of NILE, CARCASS, DEATH, GORGUTS, MORBID ANGEL...
Evolution Rock Metal Podcast (gua) 22.10.2014
In early 2009, we were largely interested in promoting a cosmopolitan world view of metal. We offered our audience a taste of international metal from all corners of the globe. In fact, Evolution Rock has been characterized and has become a true International Metal Show for all metal loving peoples around the world. It was during this time, we received a unique music submission entitled "AZOOMA, "A Hymn on the Creation of Man"; signed as, "Shahin, Keep on going, Keep Metal alive, Rock on!". It seemed like another tasty morsel of metal arriving at our door steps waiting to be discovered, but to our surprise it turned out to be a music submission of a metal band from Iran. Wow! Iran, how exquisitely rare and fantastic the idea of airing for the first time an Iranian metal band on the show; I'll say it again: for the first time! I personally welcomed the opportunity, and grew interested and curious to know who these musicians where? To me in those days, anything sent by real musicians (from anywhere in the world) was always a good listen and a first for the show. Additionally, I would have a huge ace up my sleeve when it came time to hang out with friends and listen and discuss about bands. No matter what new album was the debate about, once I played the song by AZOOMA or any other band I aired on the show, they would all just stop talking and shut up-and I was the man! Makes me feel like I'm a kid again! You know, when you come up with an awesome record or new band, and all your buds are like all stoked about it. Well, I'm not a kid anymore (physically, but every girl I have dated still remarks me as being one or treated me like one or that I have an inner child; I don't know with chicks, man. It's different!). I'm 4 sizes bigger (waist that is), but every time something cool-musically that is- comes my way, I get that 'I'm the man' feeling'. And it was pretty much the same feeling when I got to know AZOOMA's music.

So, before we get any deeper into that 'child thing' or that 'I'm the man' business, I'll move on to say that I immediately started my email interrogation with this guy called 'Shahin'. Not sure what to expect, or how this would work out for the band. Having past experience of making a series of shows on Cuban metal, I was cautious to approach the matter with respect and to make sure not to involve any politics in the matter. I cautiously aired the song submitted in one of the Assorted shows. I could deeply relate with the struggle these musicians must have gone through to create this music, and personally sought out to do all in my power to help spread the word of the band as much as I could on the show. This later led to interviewing the band, and later on another Iranian band called VASPOOHER. These interviews opened my eyes to the idea that rock and especially metal as a musical style was alive and thriving in Iran. This finally led to making AZOOMA one of our top 10 artists of 2010 by the listeners and supporters of the band. Now we jump a couple of years into the future *June 15 2014, and we find the band releasing one monstrously heavy EP entitled a HYMN OF THE VICIOUS MONSTER and singed to the international Spanish label, XTREEM MUSIC.

How things change! From a small creepy caterpillar to a beautiful (gay) butterfly; from a one night stand to a 'I'm tired. I don't wanna do it tonight."; from a dorky snot nose high school reject to a mega rock star (no thanks Marilyn Manson); from a raw let's lay the foundations of our music demo to an awe inspiring monster of an album! This is pretty much how things have changed -musically- in the AZOOMA camp. We can assure the reader that this album is one small step for AZOOMA, a giant leap for Iranian progressive death metal! Quoting the first rock star on the moon, of course. I'll also continue by saying that this album is huge! Monstrous in sound just as described in the title, and vicious in death metal progressiveness. It's without a doubt a gargantuan achievement by the quartet of Persian metal geniuses. Always a tight group, musically coordinated, and devout alumni of the rehearsal room. The four core members remain, and this is probably why the music has gotten better and tighter. To put it bluntly; all the musicians got better! Better at playing their instruments, better at making arrangements, and that also includes the lead vocalist, Shahin because vocal chords are instruments. In the case of death metal, guttural vocals mostly used to splatter words of death and destruction-yea! But as I will explain, and you will hear there is also 'singing'! Yup, there is real singing and spoken parts. The core rhythm section composed of the Shariat brothers, Farid on the stand alone bass guitar and the technical drumming of Saeed provide that tight base line for the guitar mayhem of Ahmad Tokallo. Like I said, all four musicians have improved the mastering of their instruments; however, in my personal opinion, it is Ahmad Tokallo's guitar playing that has improved immensely and drives the album with his riffs. Ahmad practically has ingeniously concocted some very technical and sticky riffs. I would add memorable, as well. But there is much more to Ahmad's guitar playing than just bashing out monster riff after monster riff. There is progression. There is tons of melody. There are acoustic guitars, but most unique to his style, there is Sumerian/Persian guitar influences that are undeniable. And this is what makes the whole of the music genuine. Genuine to their roots, genuine to themselves and to their fans. To top it all off, the album is a concept album; loosely based as a medieval horror story written in chapters.

In regards to production and sound quality, the album was professionally mixed and mastered by the band's personal friend Ehsan Imani who captured the AZOOMA sound at the band's personal rehearsal room.

The cover artwork of the album features a fierce piranha-like embryo creature designed by artist and friend of the band, Shahryar Shervin.

...And all this time I thought it was going to be called A HYMN ON THE CREATION OF MAN! As so many times I asked lead vocalist Shahin what the name AZOOMA meant? He gladly explained the definition and name in our first interview, "...a hymn on the creation of man, where Heaven and Earth do meet on Azooma, craftsman-gods together ye shall slay, and of their blood mankind ye create." (The name was taken from a book by F. Galpin, The Music of the Sumerians, 1937). After listening to the album, I completely understand why it is suitably called A HYMN OF THE VICIOUS MONSTER.

So we continue with the breakdown of the EP song by song for you. We'll try to entice you as much as we can, but you are going to have to listen to the songs yourself. We'll just say that if it starts brutal don't expect it'll be like that all through the duration of the song; the AZOOMA boys like to switch it up and progress in and out of the heavy stuff.

TRACK 1, PREFACE (INTRO): The calm before the storm. As you drift to a gentle acoustic guitar strumming its blissful chords you find a nice secure place where you drift across the Persian deserts at night. You are drawn in and lured to be safe for only a brief 1:13 minutes before your whole existence gets sucked into a frenzy of guitar riffs that marks the end of your blissful trip; and alas, the monster's hymn begins...

TRACK 2, SELF INFLECTED (5:45): This track stands out for its chaotic riff intro and descending riff progressions that carries the whole song. Most memorable is the prechorus and chorus attacking riffs and master solo. A benchmark heard through out the whole album, courtesy of master guitarist Ahmad Tokallou.

TRACK 3, ERIDANUS SUPERVOID (8:31): This track is completely what AZOOMA is now and gathers all the elements of the band's new sound. The musicianship for the track is genius. Every band member has their personal take on the track. At the beginning, it is a sonic attack of lashing death metal in the style of Death and Carcass. Up to around minute 3:10 when Ahmad's guitar separates itself into a huge lead section and then coming down with a delicate non distortion riff. Farid's bass lines creep into the mysterious atmosphere with Saeed's drumming building up momentum for the repeating distorted heavy section; then comes a clean vocal melody out of nowhere but fits in perfectly with the rhythm. Again, Ahmad complements with another heavy lead section leading to the pronounced rhythm section again and to the brutal death metal ending in the style of Morbid Angel. This is where the progressive Opeth influences of the band are shown. It is basically the AZOOMA sound for 2014.

TRACK 4, ENCAPSULATED DELUSION (6:58): Definitely one of the most heavy tracks from the album. Beginning with slow heavy distorted open chords to the back beat of Saeed's double kick drum assault, the song kicks into a sick chaotic death metal groove that dominates the entire song. What I enjoyed the most is the chorus' heavy riffing and memorable mid section. Again, Mr. Ahmad's guitar work is brilliant. As the song approaches its climax the overall heaviness is ingeniously broken down into a Persian melody and sustained single note rhythm that gives way to the most intense part of the song then concludes back again to the sick chorus heavy riffing section; more pronounced to make the ending more dramatic.

TRACK 5, GYROCOMPASS (10:36): One of my personal favorites from the album. Just like track 3, this track is a showcase again for all the members of the band. I liked how everyone got their mark in the song. It is a great piece of music to listen to. Right from the start the song thunders in and quickly goes into a clean vocal melodic break that is followed by a classic death metal bashing. Then the songs spins into a lead section with the rhythm section playing precise odd time frames. This gives way to another blistering solo by master guitarist Ahmad. The song continues to lash out more heaviness until about minute 6:05 when Saeed's percussion and Farid bass lines take control to a traditional style of Persian music. This progresses to Ahmad's sick hammer on tapping to a brutal death metal section. More sick hammer on tapping spiraling down to my favorite part of the whole album around minute 8:49 where Ahmad bursts into another ill lead section (his best solo of the whole album). What really hooked me in was the guitar solo accompanied by a brutally heavy machine gun rhythm guitar with double kick drum action! Just this piece of music that roughly lasts 43 seconds made me an AZOOMA fan for life! The song then concludes with a pronounced brutal death section to the single note squeal of Ahmad's guitar.

TRACK 6, APPENDIX (OUTRO): The Conclusion. Traditional Persian music echoes the end of the final chapter with Shahin's final spoken words and the last turns of the pages of the book entitled A HYMN OF THE VICIOUS MONSTER.

Back then, as today, we were on a mission to prove to the masses that metal is an international feeling with no borders, shared by millions (nowadays, in 2014, it is quite obvious that the idea is not new). AZOOMA arrived in a time when we needed something fresh and from the far regions of the middle east. From the first demo song we aired 'Dreams of Broken Mind' to this elaborate piece of art called A HYMN OF THE VICIOUS MONSTER, we can conclude by saying that the band has found a sound. We cannot say if it will be definite, but most likely it will keep on evolving and improve. We will have to wait and see what a whole 9 to 10 song full album will sound like, but we are left with a feeling that it will be something equally as good or even better. So, instead of rating the EP like most reviewers would do, we would like to simply recommend the album to you the reader and listener. It is a first debut of genuine musicianship with a taste of originality.
Lord Malignus
Metal Temple Webzine (gre) 10.10.2014
As anyone who caught Sam Dunne’s excellent film, Global Metal, will know, the Middle East is a surprisingly fertile breeding ground for fearsomely heavy bands. With the possible exception of ACRASSICAUDA though, none of them have gained much attention in the western world but nevertheless, there’s been some serious word of mouth about Iranian death metallers, AZOOMA. Nocleansinging.com have already given this release a glowing review, and they were also singled out for praise by MORBID ANGEL back in March, so word of mouth is definitely on their side.

What definitely aren’t on their side however, are the tight restrictions on music by Iran’s Ministry Of Islamic Guidance. While it’s difficult to work out their exact stance on blood soaked, technically minded Death Metal, it’s a pretty safe bet AZOOMA won’t be championed across state TV any time soon and getting a break will be harder for them than most bands.

If they’re destined to remain in the underground however, it’s a real shame because “A Hymn of a Vicious Monster” is absolutely ferocious. The band’s enthusiasm isn’t held back at all and they’ve also got the skill to match. Ahmed Tokallou for example, is a terrific guitarist, spinning out elaborate solos and groove-laden riffs like the best in the business. Just check out his furious fretwork on “Eridan’s Supervoid”, this guy doesn’t make love to his guitar, he punish fucks it!

Shahin Vaqfipour meanwhile, is one of those vocalists whose main concern is to keep the aggression coming, and he does just that. At times he sounds so pissed off it wouldn’t be surprising if he had a problem with being constantly bitten by venomous cobras, and while his melodic vocals are admittedly a bit weak, he rarely uses them and for the most part rages like Iran’s answer to Corpsegrinder Fisher.

Backed up by the highly competent rhythm section of the Shariat brothers, this is one of those “head bang constantly” albums that serve as a reminder of just how awesome Death Metal is. But it’s also bursting with intricate flourishes that show they’re not just cavemen bludgeoning their instruments to pieces; “Gyrocompass” for example is over ten minutes of sophisticated mosh metal that changes time signatures so often it’s dizzying, while “Self-Inflected” is another bruising pit inducer that is way more mature than it should be.

In other words, AZOOMA have struck gold. This is accomplished, sophisticated Death Metal that it is itching to find a cult audience. If they’re lucky, this will result in a few high profile support slots because these guys have got a real chance to “do a SEPULTURA” and be embraced by the wider Metal market. Do yourself a favour and check this out as soon as you can.
Tim Bolitho-Jones [9/10]
Lords of Metal Webzine (hol) 12.08.2014
Azooma hails from Mashhad in Iran. After Tehran the biggest city of the country and situated in the North-East. It’s common knowledge Iran is not the most liberal country on this planet. Still there are quite a few metal bands active. Metal Archives lists 60 bands from Iran. When these bands all reach the level of Azooma we can expect quite a few things from the Iranian scene.

Azooma was formed in 2004 and recorded a demo in 2006. Between 2009 and 2012 the band was on ice due to military obligations. When the band was back at fighting strength, the started writing and recording the six-track MCD ‘A Hymn Of The Vicious Monster’. This MCD consists of an intro and outro and four songs I can best describe as progressive death metal. These guys play like the best and the songs are filled with exciting changes. Just listen to the parts of bassist Farid Shariat. Quite often bass parts are seen as a less important element, but here they add an extra bit. The other three members know what they are doing as well. This really is a cool release. The band limits their progressive escapades. You won’t be taken by surprise by technical highlights. I think fans of Death and Gorguts should check them out.
Pim B. [83/100]
MetalShockFinland.com (fin) 11.08.2014
Persian progressive death metallers AZOOMA were formed in 2004 in Iran. Guitarist Ahmad Tokallou and bassist Farid Shariat were looking to create something new – a metal band, but one that was influenced by their Persian culture. Farid‘s brother Saaed joined as drummer and the line-up was completed with the addition of vocalist Shahin Vaqfipour.

Due to the laws on metal music in Iran, the band cannot play shows there, but did perform at the 2013 Persian Metal Festival which took place in the Republic of Georgia,Tbilisi. AZOOMA worked on material for their album throughout 2012 and ’13, which then resulted in the birth of “A Hymn Of The Vicious Monster”. The album is a concept one and was mixed and mastered by Ehsan Imani and released via Spanish label Xtreem Music. Now let’s talk about the music!

“A Hymn Of The Vicious Monster” you might think at first glance is a short EP with only four main tracks, but actually they are all longer than average, resulting in a 36 minute epic offering, which definitely does not miss any substance.

The introduction to the album or ‘Preface’ begins in a soft and gentle style, with some classical style acoustic guitar along with Persian influences, leading you to what you know will come, then all of a sudden BOOM! We’re into the first full track, ‘Chapter I: Self Inflected’. Beginning with speedy riffing guitar, then the full on growling vocals kick in like a punch in the guts. The first thing I noticed is how tight and professional sounding the band are, with extremely proficient technical playing – solid fast drumming backing up the guitars, with their complex changes and solos, full of intensity and a nice sharp finish!

‘Chapter II: Eridanus Supervoid’ is a full mental onslaught from the first second, conjuring up a picture in my mind of a sea of crowd surfing and moshing fans. Shahin’s vocals are top class killer growls, blending perfectly with the music and yet more technical guitar work is demonstrated, especially in the middle section of the song, which turns very progressive and slows down before changing pace entirely. I particularly enjoyed the guitar solo on this track and the clean vocals by Ahmad are a great addition. This album is no average one, it has many different layers throughout and I discover new elements during each listen.

Starting by clearly demonstrating Saeed’s skills hammering away on the twin bass pedal, next track ‘Chapter III: Encapsulated Delusion’ builds into yet another song full of metal energy, these guys take new twists and turns regularly to keep the listener on their toes. The precision of Ahmad’s fretwork along with Farid’s killer bass riffs, combined with the already mentioned drumming and vocals, result in the ultimate death metal listening experience.

The longest track on the EP at 10.37, ‘Chapter IV: Gyrocompass’ is the last but most definitely not least full song on the album. The progressive elements are prevalent here, adding to the overall atmosphere of the song, which as in all the other tracks really demonstrates how cohesive AZOOMA are as a unit. Again a surprise with a slower change in pace three quarters of the way through the song, with some additional Middle Eastern sounds, complimenting the heaviness extremely well.

And so to the end with ‘Appendix’. A very fitting close to the album; this time with spoken vocals and again the softness of the music with Persian tones. I love the ending, turning the page to close the story, or maybe just this chapter and I really look forward to the next one.

To sum up, if you haven’t yet heard AZOOMA‘s music, and you’re a fan of death metal that has lots to offer, these guys are a must in your collection. The band are extremely professional musicians which shines through on “A Hymn Of The Vicious Monster”. They deserve much success with this first EP and I look forward to seeing AZOOMA moving onwards and upwards in the metal music world.
Ali Blackdiamond [9/10]
The Guardian (uk) 08.08.2014
Whether you’re Iranian, Iraqi or Iroquois; whether you come from Aberdeen, Azerbaijan or Algeria, sometimes you just have to bang your head to powerful blast beats, stomach-churning riffs and masterly shredding. There isn’t much information about Azooma available, but if you like widescreen, Apocalyptic DM in the style of Nile or Gorguts, then check this bandcamp out. In fact even if you don’t like extreme music you should try it out because, to paraphrase Daniel Defoe, there are only two certainties in life: taxes and death metal.
John Doran
Wonderbox Metal Webzine (uk) 31.07.2014
Azooma are from Iran and play Death Metal.

A nice acoustic intro starts us off, shortly followed by the opening track Self-Infected. It’s immediately apparent that the band can play well, and also that the type of Death Metal they play is non-standard.

Azooma play Progressive Death Metal with Technical Death Metal clearly playing a role, but rather than the schizophrenic complex-for-the-sake-of-it route that a lot of Technical Death Metal goes down, Azooma have chosen the arguably more interesting Progressive Death Metal route. This means more coherent song structures and more emphasis on the song itself and its accompanying feelings and moods. With this in mind A Hymn Of The Vicious Monster is a roaring success.

Think old-Opeth if they were more Death Metal. Think Gorguts and Death mixed together in a Progressive Metal melange. Tasty.

As mentioned; the musicianship is top-notch, which even includes a noticeable bass. The band proficiently play Death Metal, Progressive Metal, acoustics, Jazz-style interludes, and essentially everything else with pure class.

The vocals are deep and satisfying and the band even find space in their expansive songs to include a couple of low-key cleans that enhance proceedings on a couple of occasions.

A strong sound and production rounds of the package and Azooma have a winner on their hands here.

This is a supremely impressive release and one that you should definitely get if you’re even remotely interesting in challenging, stand-out music.
Nigell Holloway
Subterráneo Heavy Webzine (spa) 20.07.2014
La Globalización, como todo en esta vida, tiene sus cosas buenas, y sus cosas malas. Obviando los aspectos negativos, de sobra conocidos, sin esa útil herramienta llamada Internet, no habríamos conocido a esta banda proveniente de Irán. Porque sí, en esos países también se hace Metal Extremo, ni están todo el día pegando a sus mujeres, ni amenazando con armamento nuclear a occidente. Tal y como se mostró en el magnífico documental Global Metal, esta música, cual plaga, se ha extendido a los cinco continentes, siguiendo las directrices básicas implantadas por los pioneros hace décadas, y a buen seguro, con los ojos cerrados, nadie podría averiguar de dónde son AZOOMA. Tal vez diría lo típico: Suecia o EEUU, pero la cara de sorpresa sería mayúscula al revelar la procedencia, como le pasó a un servidor.

Death Metal de Irán, con sus momentos melódicos y pasajes más técnicos, pero ante todo es un EP de presentación muy sólido, capaz de mirar de tú a tú con cualquier grupo del underground europeo y/o americano. Aunque he echado en falta más señas de identidad de su lugar natal, sin llegar al grado de MELECHESH, claro, los maestros absolutos en esto de fusionar la música del Medio Oriente con los blast-beats y las riffs metálicos. Pero la verdad es que ya se han marcado una presentación corta, intensa y muy densa. Si no contamos la intro y el outro, tenemos cuatro temas, o capítulos, como ellos mismos listan en la obra, aunque cada uno entraña sus propias dificultades a la hora de sacar los detalles.

En dicho cuarteto de cortes, los iraníes se las arreglan para complicar cada vez más la estructura de los mismos. La velocidad, los solos intrincados con su dosis de melodía, el doble pedal y los cambios de ritmo, serán constantes a partir de entonces. La influencia oriental ha decidido guardarse para ciertos detalles: algún solo, o el uso del sitar, principalmente en la outro, donde sí han desplegado ese toque “autóctono”, que de manera tímida han introducido, cual aderezo o complemento. Y es que en otros trabajos, donde la introducción y el cierre no son más que meros complementos imprescindibles, aquí tienen toda su razón de ser, ofreciendo una faceta musical distinta a lo que encontraremos más adelante.

Hay pocos momentos calmados, muy pocos, ya que los cuatro temas son una montaña rusa, donde la intensidad sube y baja a gusto de la banda, y tal vez esa tendencia por “retorcer” la estructura de los temas (entre tanto riff lleno de mala leche es muy fácil perderse), lo que hace que de alguna manera, me recuerde a los GORGUTS clásicos. No me equivoco si digo que “Chapter IV: Gyrocompass”, es el corte más completo de todos: Por su pacífico inicio, que sin aviso previo se convierte en un torbellino, por el uso del sitar, que adelantará lo que vendrá en el outro, los mil solos que contiene (ninguno de ellos mediocre por cierto), y en definitiva, un ejercicio de cómo mantener el ritmo durante 10 minutos sin que decaiga la calidad.

Parece mentira que una banda “de tan lejos” pueda hacer un EP tan notable, pero hoy día todos tenemos las mismas herramientas y medios, y qué puñetas, se agradece que cada cierto tiempo venga un grupo fuera de nuestro círculo habitual, nos pegue una patada en el culo, y nos diga: “Nosotros también existimos”.
Pablo Balbontín
Rage Reviews Webzine (arg) 03.07.2014
Esta banda oriunda de ¡Irán! ha sacado un MCD que será sin dudas una de las sorpresas más gratas de este año, y espero no pase inadvertido entre los fans. Xtreemmusic tuvo un ojo clínico al contratar este cuarteto. A los hechos vamos: treinta y cuatro minutos con lujos de todo tipo. Una intro ("Preface"), un outro ("Appendix") más cinco temas excelentes tanto en lo compositivo como en su ejecución. La parte técnica prevalece un tanto más por sobre la brutalidad sin renunciar a ella en absoluto. Da la impresión de estar escuchando a Cynic/ Carcass/ Death/ Gorguts/ Incantation juntos en un sólo track. Por momentos la balanza se inclina más al death metal visceral ("Eridanus Supervoid") lo cual no significa que dejen de lado los arreglos o la estructuración del tema. Los riffs del guitarrista Ahmad Tokallou dirigen el curso de cada tema mostrando todo tipo de texturas a medida que transcurren los mismos. "Gyrocompass" con sus más de diez minutos es el pico de elaboración al que llegan, alternando voces limpia con growls (A cargo de Shahin Vaqfipour) floreandose entre la furia y el buen gusto de la composición. Gratísima sorpresa y de obligatoría escucha si sos fan de las bandas enumeradas anteriormente.
Martín Gasa [8.5/10]
Metal Gods TV (uk) 30.06.2014
Hailing from Iran,Azooma have been making a serious name for themselves in the underground metal scene of Mashhad the past 10 years or so,influences include old school death metal acts such as Cannibal Corpse and Morbid Angel with a nod towards the progressive/tech side.

This 6 track EP is their first with Spainish label Xtreem Music kicks off with brutal instrumaental opener ‘Preface’ and gets you ready of what to come from the rest of the EP,the whole band certainly know what’s what when playing,then it’s boom and straight into ‘Chapter 1 – Self Inflicted with the 2 Shariat brothers launching a vicious assault on the eardrums,’Chapter 2 – Eridanus Supervoid’ and ‘Chapter 3 – Encapsulated Delusion’ are more of the same and for me the stand out tracks on the EP,hard to pick from the 2,guitarist Tokallou pulling some unbelievable riffs and solos from his 6 string,totally scarred my brain.

‘Chapter 4 – Gyrocompass’ sees the band playing with such ferocity,vocalist Vaqfipour pulling off some truly guttural roars,’Appendix’ had me tapping my feet in time with the double bass beat blasts coming from Saeeds drum kit,death metal with a groove.

My first time of listening to this band,won’t be my last,very impressed by them,if you like you death metal with that progressive/tech side to it then you’ll be hard pressed to find a band better,catch them live as I will be doing first chance I get.
Cliff Scowen [8/10]
Xtreem Music (spa) 16.06.2014
Saturación. Es tal la avalancha de lanzamientos musicales surgidos diariamente, que digerir todo es imposible. El mundo gira tan rápido que no nos permite ser plenamente conscientes de todo lo que en él ocurre, jugando al despiste. Por eso mismo, por la necesidad de escoger y así poder nutrir a ese insaciable monstruo interno, nuestro oído es atraído como un imán hacia sonoridades intransferiblemente ganadoras. Es verdad que salen discos buenísimos, buenos, decentes… pero hasta algunos grandes “cumplen”, en ocasiones, con la pertinente decepción que ello implica (además de que genera un debate caliente en el que no vamos a entrar). Pues bien, dar con una banda que nos hace “click”, que además nos sorprende desde la nada por no tener referencias previas en su haber, y poder escuchar detenidamente, degustar y absorber su música, haciéndonos disfrutar como enanos… es un placer al que no se le pueden hacer ascos, un lujo que supera cualquier mediocridad, caiga quien caiga. Nuestro tiempo libre es soberano, y corta cabezas sin piedad.

En este caso tenemos la oportunidad de saborear un trabajo elaborado y refrescante, de esos que merecen (a juicio del que suscribe) la mejor de las atenciones: “A Hymn of the Vicious Monster”, el EP debut de los iraníes AZOOMA. El disco llega de la mano de Xtreem Music, sello que con esta jugada se apunta otro tanto importante, todo hay que decirlo. Estamos ante una potentísima banda, carente de prejuicios. De su poderoso núcleo mana un engendro Death Metal de trazas progresivas, cuya fórmula es bordeada por diferentes líneas y tendencias musicales, así como implementa elementos culturales y/o de raíz. Su música se transfiere mediante un resultado que consigue aunar lo variopinto en un solo ente, siendo imposible no reconocer algo: son un grupo diferente, de esos que abren nuevas brechas y quieren comerse el mundo. Pero no por ostentar nada, sino porque sus componentes desbordan talento y además lo plasman con una naturalidad visceral, desde un punto de vista más lejano de lo que pudiera parecer, a pesar de todo el acercamiento que la comunicación inmediata nos concede desde hace muchos años. Música realizada con el corazón, pero aplicando el raciocinio, la complejidad, la espontaneidad y la simpleza directa, a partes iguales. En definitiva, una visión del material de siempre, pero batida en diferente coctelera y presentada en un formato bastante personal.

Las influencias de AZOOMA recogen lo mejor de ciertas agrupaciones míticas, aunque su discurso se ve salpicado por elementos etno-tribales típicos en bandas que ejecutan música de civilizaciones (sin ser este un caso especialmente significativo), tanto en forma de introducciones o cierres de obra como a través del propio viaje que supone su música, mediante secciones concretas. Y creo que han logrado un equilibrio absolutamente natural. Sin abusar pero sin cortarse un pelo, implementan secciones de diversa índole, incluso ajenas al Death Metal, consiguiendo que la canción que estamos escuchando no pierda ni un gramo de sentido o interés, aplicando la técnica justa para cada momento y disipando cualquier duda ante posibles complejos. Aquí no hay tendencias, ni modas, ni obligaciones, pero sí una declaración de intenciones de orgullo latente. Para empezar, hay más música en las cuatro canciones de este EP que en muchos discos “larga duración” convencionales, tanto por el minutaje del compendio como por la propia propuesta musical. Sumémosle “Prefacio” y “Apéndice”. De momento, esto ya es mucho.

La portada está realizada por Shahriyar Shervin, resultando absolutamente magnífica y atractiva, aunque todo el diseño del CD pertenece a este artista gráfico. El logo de la banda encaja a la perfección, en posesión de una simetría inteligente y reforzando la escena. Lucha bicéfala dentro del embrión, mostrando nuestro lado oscuro, latente y patente. Pero la cosa no queda aquí, porque el resto del Artwork se compone de elementos, colores y conceptos muy llamativos (tan simples como gratamente sorprendentes), primando los diferentes diseños gráficos ante unos créditos fugaces pero concisos. La propia contraportada es una pasada, ofreciendo un gran contraste sobre el motivo principal, a través de otra visión del mismo concepto.

El trabajo ha sido mezclado y masterizado por el joven productor Eshan Imani, habiendo logrado un resultado curiosísimo. De hecho, al escucharlo a través de auriculares podemos percibir que los instrumentos están completamente separados entre sí, y a la vez actúan como un todo. Y este es uno de los trucos del disco, no cabe la menor duda: una mezcla que potencia las virtudes y la personalidad de cada instrumentista sin tapar a nadie. Las tareas vocales corren a cargo de Shahin Vaqfipour. Mantienen un tono gutural constante, fluctuando entre los tonos y timbres de la vieja escuela, con garra y energía. El bajo mantiene un predominio grandioso y equilibrado, como hacía mucho tiempo no había escuchado, mediante un sonido grave y con cuerpo, redondo, haciendo que no resulte estridente, por no hablar de la personalísima forma de tocar de Farid Shariat. El trabajo de guitarras esta realizado por Ahmad Tokallou, resultando variado y atronador, tanto en las estructuras rítmicas dobladas y complementadas como en otras más melódicas. Los solos son viscerales, dando la sensación de que están ejecutados “a la caída”, en su mayor parte. El propio músico se hace cargo de las vocales limpias de todo el trabajo. La batería se encuentra en un nivel de volumen perfecto, siendo ejecutada por Saeed Shariat. Su labor es muy destacada, y actúa como un mecanismo multiorgánico de precisión. Juntando todos estos factores, se conforma un trabajo moderno y fresco, no exento de poso añejo pero filtrado a través de numerosas tendencias en forma de llamativos pasajes, arreglos rítmicos y vocales, etc.

Todo el contenido parece estar hilado como una sola pieza, a través de seis canciones o capítulos que componen este viaje musical. El disco se inicia con “Preface”, una pieza corta con base de guitarra acústica y un leve colchón de teclas, discreto. El acorde predominante es el típico “suspendido” con novena menor adicional, tan utilizado en las sonoridades mediterráneas. Una guitarra eléctrica, sin distorsión y con los agudos algo cortados, se lamenta sobre el incisivo sonido de cuerdas rasgueadas, resultando una combinación funcional, diferente. Buena forma de cerrar y reabrir esta introducción, a través de un nuevo y escueto arreglo que desemboca en la siguiente pieza.

“Chapter I: Self-Inflected” nace cual ofidio, a través de una espiral sónica. Un tema convincente, con partes pegadizas e influencias del Metal progresivo, Metal melódico y música clásica, así como de bandas como GORGUTS, HYPOCRISY, ATHEIST o DEATH. El trabajo de base es demencial y orgánicamente preciso, aunque el bajo eléctrico destaca por su gran presencia, resultando casi imposible no dejarse llevar por su papel. No hay notas excesivamente agudas, no hay escalas espasmódicamente rápidas, no hay florituras gratuitas… solo es una serpiente de gran calibre que va reptando por todo el disco, con absoluta musicalidad. A veces, parece interactuar por su cuenta, realizando líneas adicionales que ofrecen un refuerzo sólido, difiriendo de las guitarras pero respetando los patrones rítmicos generales en todo momento. Posiblemente, la columna vertebral de esta música, y su estilo recuerda bastante a la onda del Thrash Metal técnico y progresivo, aunque la afinación en Si grave le confiere el toque Tech Death.

“Chapter II: Eridanus Supervoid” cambia de palo, en ondas tipo CARCASS o con partes rápidas al estilo INCANTATION que adoptan gran protagonismo, aunque siempre reforzados por la esencia ATHEIST casi imposible de obviar. En el momento 2:20, asistimos a un atípico y casi insólito efecto “Walking Bass”, realizado con escalas. Notas muy cortas y ligeramente acentuadas, estilo Jazz de los años 50/60, sobre los trémolos de la guitarra y los blast beats. Siguiendo la evolución del solo de guitarra y la base rítmica que lo sustenta creciente y armónicamente ascendente, percibimos una forma de tocar fresca y poco premeditada, en absoluto exenta de conocimiento y con un buen arreglo final, que produce un potente clímax. Sin embargo, descomprimen a través de una inesperada sección, extraña y experimental, en la que el solista explora nuevas ondas sobre en un estilo más fusionero y alternativo. Pero el verdadero límite llega cuando pasan a desarrollar una extraña parte de voces limpias en plan CYNIC, guitarras ambientales inclusive, cerrando el corte con secciones machaconas y sencillas. Cambios inesperados y más enrevesados, retoman una brutalidad visceral, soporte de las últimas estrofas.

“Chapter III: Encapsulated Desilusion” ofrece otro giro completo, acordes levemente disonantes tipo GORGUTS dan paso a un ritmo trepidante, con rápidos cambios y buenas instrumentaciones. Un tema que en su primera parte se muestra empecinado, y que de repente adquiere tintes abiertos y variados. Numerosos fraseos doblados entre guitarra y bajo, grooves, algunos breakdowns más “Metal” que Core… y una tímida sección etno-eléctrica en la que el baterista ofrece todo su despliegue. Hay que destacar el pedazo solo de guitarra que ofrece Mr. Tokallou, batalla pura en la búsqueda de las notas pero abrasando con seguridad, en su línea. Simplemente remarcar y destacar que no es el típico guitarrista de Death Metal, ni de Metal Progresivo, más bien parece un heavy/thrasher de tintes alternativos, que destila emoción con cada nota.

“Chapter IV: Gyrocompass” es una odisea de 10:36 minutos, en la que vuelven a sorprendernos con pasajes de índole electroacústica y voces limpias. Es un breve espejismo, pues la masacre aparece de repente, mediante cabalgadas, voces desenfrenadas, armonías tensas, patrones de tira y afloja, arreglos escalísticos y un ritmo endiabladamente desenfrenado. Uno de los temas emblema de este EP, que intercala la brutalidad y la técnica con aspectos ambientalmente progresivos tipo NEVERMORE o JEFF LOOMIS. Esta vez los ambientes exóticos pueden recordar a NILE, incluso a los discos de KARL SANDERS en solitario. Las bases percusivas y el aire arabesco de la armonía así lo indican, a pesar de que, probablemente, para AZOOMA sea algo absolutamente inherente en su propia sangre… y posiblemente bastante superfluo, comparado con las verdaderas herencias tradicionales de su país. La recta final se compone de hipnóticos motivos guitarrísticos sobre violentos pasajes blast. Un último solo de guitarra, con sus dos ambientes perfectamente diferenciados, nos invita a recibir las estrofas finales, mientras el bajo juguetea sin descanso.

Y esta aventura cierra sus puertas… “Appendix” es una reflexión final: aceradas cuerdas limpias, brillantes, sobre una base de percusión tribal y las fugaces frases realizadas con voz recitada. Pero lo mejor que puede pasar ahora es que se repita toda la reproducción y volvamos a empezar.

Se pueden aplicar más adjetivos positivos, incluso decir con muchísimo menos, o desgranar al completo… lo cierto es que es una propuesta complicada de definir, cuanto más se intenta acotar o catalogar, más podría a su vez alejarse de dichos términos, dado su sobrio eclecticismo congénito. Citar bandas a modo de influencia no es más que una guía que no resta un ápice de valor a este trabajo ni a sus autores. Pero si este es el adelanto ¿cómo será su primer larga duración? Aunque también cabe preguntarse si pulirán su propuesta en pro de despegarse de ciertas influencias. Pueden hacerlo, les sobra talento, y por pedir, que no quede. Y hay algo que también debe decirse bien alto: con su simple existencia, los guerreros AZOOMA, hijos de generaciones de la antigua Persia… rompen muchas normas. No son los únicos… pero aquí hablamos de un gran nivel y fuerte personalidad. Además, este lanzamiento supone un logro, ya que actúa como plataforma intercultural, algo no demasiado habitual en el ámbito del Metal Extremo. “A Hymn of the Vicious Monster” es un gran paso adelante en el intercambio entre Oriente Medio y Occidente. Enorme disco para disfrutar a tope. Y si es en formato físico, mejor que mejor. Aunque de momento, puedes darle caña aquí mismo y comprobarlo in situ…
Again Kill [9.5/10]
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