Sonic Blast Media
Despite now having an updated lineup with Kathir of Rudra fame on strings, Zushakon‘s debut self-titled full length contains remastered tracks off previous releases, including tracks from the Chaosophist/World Ablaze compilation and their split with fellow Singaporean black metal band Luna Azure. So depending on how one looks at it, this may or may not actually be considered a new album, containing songs from as far back as 2007.
Off the black metal bands in Singapore, Zushakon was one that I never really checked out prior to this, and listening to the music here I was genuinely surprised. Band mastermind Kyng Hadesalmighty displays his proficiency in the genre, and as the album progresses he displays a variety of styles that have spawned forth since the birth of black metal. The Mayhem influences are rather clear right from the start of the album with tracks like World Ablaze – Into the Firestorm having riffs that set an atmosphere that is cold as fuck, but pretty soon the band goes into a thrashy rage, a style that the band would stick to largely for most parts of the album. Kyng Hadesalmighty’s vocals take cue from such legends as Attila, as his tortured shrieks make the outlook of the music bleaker than ever. This especially so on tracks like Dawn of the Blackshirts (a reference to Mayhem, perhaps?), with the demented track pushing the limits of one’s sanity. The shouts that are included here and there also give the album a slight punkish feel with the raw energy emanating from the music.
The riffwork of guitarist Armaros is also brilliant, as he displays his ability to create different moods through his riffs, from a cold, bleak trem-picked style that Norwegian bands have stylised, to more infectious, catchy thrashy riffs that easily gets the listener to headbang along. The lead guitars on the album also display the melodic side of his playing, like on the rather subtle leads on songs like Excuse All the Blood, Part 2.
Furthermore, the interlude Chaos Requiem presents a starkly different side of Zushakon, a soft instrumental track like the eye of the storm, a short break before the band continues ploughing through the second half of the album, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake. And fittingly so, as the second half of the album is markedly violent compared to the first half, with Vortex of Devoured Souls being pretty brutal (and much less “fun”) compared to earlier moments of the album, and this would definitely please those who prefer the darker and heavier style of black metal.
Zushakon, while a nice display of the band’s abilities in writing classic black metal tracks unfortunately does not contain new material and this is one of the main complaints about the album. With a new lineup unveiled, it leaves one to eagerly await more new material in the future.