Zebulon Pike: Space is the Corpse of Time Review
Our universe is expanding by hundreds of kilometers every second. Zebulon Pike, Minneapolis’ preeminent metal band, is providing the soundtrack. Space is the Corpse of Time expands on the band’s previous three releases, casting a smattering of touchstone metal styles over a solid bed of dynamic, instrumental doom. Not only are stoner, speed, and prog metal once again incorporated flawlessly into the mix, but Zebulon Pike also flirt with a few new aesthetics—including art metal, jazz, and drone. The odd is balanced against the esoteric, the beautiful against the brutal.
To be frank, Zebulon Pike is a metal nerd’s metal band. In the same way that one needs a well- and widely-indexed mental pop culture dictionary to catch all the gags in an episode of 30 Rock, the artistic nods on Space is the Corpse of Time are numerous and comprehensive. Starting at “Spectrum Threshold,” the album opener, Zebulon settle into a rust-rotten guitar charge somewhere between an Isis riff and a Tomahawk lick. As the track’s intensity wanes, drummer Erik Bolen ambles into an unconventional solo played on the kit—half free jazz and half minimal percussion—landing the song in arty Kayo Dot territory. “Powers of the Living – Manifestations of the Dead” closes on glacially slow drone, channeling the sort of existential malaise perfected by Sunn O))) and mid-career Boris. The title track—clocking at five minutes, the shortest track on the album by half—sputters with prog wonkiness; the bastard child of King Crimson and Opeth, orphaned and raised by a creepy neighbor named Mike Patton. Unrelenting riffs and a militaristic cadence familiar to post-rockers Neurosis, Bloody Panda, and Tides are boldly wielded on “Trigon in Force,” making the album finale as heavy and definitive as a wood-ax that severs the head from the body. And all that is not even speaking to the bells, auxiliary percussion, and assorted brass instrumentation that glimmers throughout the album, nor the subtle influence of Steve Reich and modern Russian classical music on guitarist Erik Fratzke and company.
With all that name-dropping, you’d think that Zebulon Pike doesn’t have a unique sound. That, however, couldn’t be further from the truth. The key component of Zebulon’s augmented doom metal is masterful use of dynamics. Transitions between loud and mellow, between clean tones and fuzzy noise, between violently fast and achingly slow happen unexpectedly—yet feel so precise. Since Zebulon’s sophomore album, The Structure of the Black Stallion, the band has focused a lot on juxtaposing acid-scald soloing and chugging riffage, ruminative harmonics and sludgy dissonance. The final product is consistently fresh, conversant with the history of metal, respectfully accessible, and entirely badass.
But what can I say? I’m a metal nerd.
— Will Wlizlo (Utne Reader)
Zebulon Pike: Site