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Review Of First Release By Zebulon Pike

Updated on January 6, 2017

As a guitarist myself, I know that one of the questions a guitarist spends a great deal of time pondering is how to effect the alchemy of fusing together everything one likes into one seamless style. Obviously, the more disparate one's influences are, the more challenging it can be. The fact is, being eclectic in one's tastes and being open to “experimentation” does not automatically vouchsafe that a great artist one will be. After all, experiments can fail, and the lab blows up!

Like Zebulon Pike, I have always had an equally abiding interest in both heavy bands like Black Sabbath as well as “Art Rock” bands like King Crimson, and so, naturally, when I heard the band's first release, the elegant way it fused these two styles tickled my fancy.

In addition to this lovely synthesis, which I mentioned, Zebulon Pike is also the undisputed master of the lyrically heavy riff, which I am so enamored of, and, on its first release, the band gets down to business doing both. Thus on the initial track, The White Light Of Black Star, one has one of the best lyrically heavy riffs I have ever heard during the first part of the song and an equally adroit execution of King Crimsonesque ideas on the second.

The next track, humorously entitled Umlaut Overload, is a spiraling staircase of riffs in odd meters. A lovely interlarding of textures with heaviness, it is the kind of track fans of classic Rush have been yearning to hear for years.

Then, there is my favorite track (Behold) The Wizard's Fountain. Like the first track, it contains one of the best lyrically heavy riffs I have ever heard. It is the kind of thing that makes one imagine the climax to an epic fantasy novel. Especially noteworthy is the second part of the song, when it kicks into high gear; the riff still manages to be lyrical while being propulsive at the same time. This is no mean feat to accomplish.

The exhibition of both the band's deft arranging skills and its knowledge of music continues with the track Under Capricorn. Here one has another beautiful, arpeggiated guitar-figure with blue-notes thrown in, reminiscent of You Know, You Know by Mahavishnu Orchestra, except, in this instance, heavy riffs come crashing in from time to time.

As if Tony Levin and Adrian Belew sat in with Black Sabbath, Pillars Of Hercules continues the same mishmash of the heavy with the textural. However, unlike many bands, who seek to merge heaviness with intricacy, Zebulon Pike plays a piece that maintains cohesion throughout rather than sounding like it was playing a bunch of riffs randomly thrown together.

At the end of the day, people, who appreciate this kind of music, need to stop doing the intellectually dishonest thing of saying great music like this is not being made anymore. Rather, they need to get out and support bands like Zebulon Pike.

Now keep calm and buy vinyl.

(Behold) The Wizard's Fountain by Zebulon Pike

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