Dr. Zilog have been making chip metal for a while. They’re one of the oldest acts in the modern scene and have stuck around for a reason. In their latest album, ‘Obstreperous’, they’ve created yet another classic, heavy album full of memorable solos and masterful composition. Join me as I dive into Zilog’s newest offerings.
Admittedly, I had only heard a song here and there from Dr. Zilog before I heard this album. I had no idea what to expect going in, and I can’t say I’m disappointed. Though not everything about their sound is what I look for in music, there is much about this release that appeals to me. The absurd track names (‘Unrectifiable Warpath’, ‘The Truth Hz’, etc.) and short sketches that fill this album are wonderfully terrible.
My favorite of these sketches comes at the end of ‘Unrectifiable Warpath’ and leads into ‘Chainsaw Death Maze’. A belligerent parent walks upstairs to yell at their absent-minded child only to be torn apart by a chainsaw in what has got to be one of the most disturbing and yet hilarious voice-acting gags I’ve ever heard. It’s gruesome yet hilarious and just my kind of comedy.
‘Chainsaw Death Maze’ creates tension in the bass line and drums that is tightly balanced with the lighter guitars and chip elements. The guitar solo in this song is particularly memorable, mixing simple sections with flourishes of eighth note runs and precise, technical guitar work. My favorite part of the album comes in the simple yet cathartic section in which the guitar is quickly panned from side to side. It creates at once sense of tension, in that the listener is caught off guard by this distinct change in sound, but it also gives the listener release in the flowery melodies the soloist spins out.
I have to admit that a couple of this album’s shortcomings threw me off. The sense of repetition in many songs is certainly purposeful—as it’s a staple of the black metal, and really most rock/metal genres—but it does wear on you after a section repeats one time too many before launching off into something entirely different. Prog and metal are notorious for this jarring structure, but the base rhythms themselves must be interesting for this to be accomplished properly. Unfortunately, in songs like ‘Parallaxadaisical’ and ‘Hallucinatorium’ this trend is all too apparent in rhythms that, if properly modified or broken up, would be listenable. Here, though, they are fairly abrasive to the overall flow of a song.
Speaking of structure and flow, many of the well-written parts of songs lead directly into these repetitive sections. This ends up being a distraction in songs that would otherwise be perfect headbangers. The a heavy, dark passage in the introduction of ‘Eternal Void’ is abruptly ended with a droning, stereotypical riff. This banal phrase is followed by a section full of discordant scalar runs, but ultimately the middle section ends up ruining this flow between sections. None of these sections would be bad in the right context, but here they seem out of place, crammed together where they shouldn’t be.
All that said, the pièce de résistance is undeniably the title track. The band clearly knew a winner when they heard one, because they went all out on the music video (seen above) that accompanies this song. Filled with goofy and yet deeply upsetting video game imagery, the animation calls to their clear VGM roots. This song is one of the best chip metal thrashers I’ve heard since Danimal Cannon’s ‘The Big Crunch’. The amount of rhythmic switch-ups, tempo changes, and melodic variations in this song are juggled perfectly. The dramatic shifts that prog and black metal are known for shine on this track. The syncopated guitar chugs mesh beautifully with solos that seem like they came straight out of a The Mars Volta single.
Overall, I’m impressed with what Dr. Zilog has to offer. Not everything on this album spoke to me, but that doesn’t stop me from wholeheartedly recommending this album. From the groovy, sexy riffs in ‘Spaceship’ to the emotional guitar solos in ‘Eternal Truth Hz’, there’s something for everyone in this album. With such a long history of cranking out solid jams, I know that these three will continue to shake the earth and form many a mosh pit far into the future.
ઈ(@̴̨̊̋̐̃̀̽̽ͅ❦@̴̨̊̋̐̃̀̽̽ͅ)ૐ \Keep Chip City w e i r d/ (๑ ऀืົཽ₍₍ළ₎₎ ऀืົཽ)✧