When it comes to emotional viscera in metal, few genres manage to encapsulate feelings of hopelessness, rage, and self-discovery like doom/sludge. Their dragging, monolithic riffs and time signatures entice the listener into a viscous wall of sound, drenched in feeling and soul. We need only look at the likes of Mastodon, Pallbearer, and Crowbar for this to become apparent. Another outfit who has been tackling the same demons is one O Zorn!.
O Zorn! have an interesting little history. Formed of a trio of Long Beach’s underground veterans, they fluctuated between activity and inactivity before setting out to release O Zorn! in 2017 to much positive feedback. Now, the trio are on the cusp of releasing their full-length record, Your Killer, via Seeing Red Records.
The powerful title track cracks the record open, and it’s clear that O Zorn! have taken their time working on this in-between their EP and Your Killer. One thing which becomes apparent throughout Your Killer is the live capabilities of every song. “Casket,” “Cult Status,” and “Your Killer” in particular feel like they were made to be played live, which compliments the band mentioning that their latest focus has been on improving their concert game. This is evident in their material, with the anthemic “Bandini Mountain” and “Loved” assured to create resonance and response aplenty from the crowd.
“Casket” is one of those tracks which really catches you by surprise. A progressively accelerating intro in Mastodon fashion – with Danny Walker building the intensity on drums – makes one imagine a doom-oriented song before Billy Meyer unleashes a devastating riff and changes the tone of the track entirely. Here, Bill Kielty’s raspy, forceful vocals truly shine and bring the pain of the lyrics to life. It’s lyrical content – that of a wounded Marine seeking safety – only heightens the creative ability of O Zorn! and the care they’ve taken to create an immersive and captivating record.
Moments like this are not bereft in Your Killer. More of this captivation is seen throughout the record as a multitude of themes is explored, all within the realms of human suffering in one form or another. These different explorations of the same relative area are presented in a variety of manners; from aggression and angst, to slow and mournful. “Cult Status” presents the latter form to us, as a grieving, Pallbearer-esque riffs chimes over Kielty’s painful, melodic, and occasionally haunting vocals. “France On Foot” also takes it down a step and brings the distortion up as Kielty emulates an almost Chino Moreno-esque vocal style, which aptly fits the mood of the track.
“Secret Santa,” the record’s closer, focuses on addiction and wraps up the smorgasbord of human suffering presented throughout Your Killer. In terms of criticisms, there are very few. While a couple of tracks might blend together in places, this is quite minor on a record that is overwhelmingly immersive and solid. O Zorn!’s collective years of experience are apparent on Your Killer; the musical knowledge, passion, and creative abilities result in an enveloping and diverse record overall.
Your Killer is a punch to the gut with plenty of charisma, power, and groove to keep you hooked. Developing from their debut by fine-tuning their sound but keeping their originality, it’s a natural next step for the Long Beach veterans. If they’re as dedicated to their live shows as they describe, one can only imagine their distortion-filled sound will create more and more shockwaves through the sludge scene. This is a great record for lovers of all things heavy, but with plenty of depth to get you thinking.
Your Killer Track Listing:
1. Your Killer
3. Bandini Mountain
4. Cult Status
6. France On Foot
9. Secret Santa
Run Time: 45:12
Release Date: March 20, 2020
Record Label: Seeing Red Records