Qrixkuor - Zoetrope (EP)
Invictus Productions
Atmospheric Black Metal
1 songs (24:34)
Release year: 2022
Invictus Productions
Reviewed by Goat

An English project comprising the mysterious duo S and D, the former part of underground icon Adorior, Qrixkuor make suffocatingly heavy music for those predisposed towards it. Fond of long, intricate pieces that rarely dip beneath the ten (and of late, twenty) minute mark, Zoetrope is their second EP release but a fine place to begin exploring a small but fascinating discography. It comprises a single track over twenty-four minutes in length with the subtitle Psychospiritual Sparagmos, a gripping exploration of black, doom, and even symphonic flourishes tied up in a progressive yet dark and intense journey that is as overwhelming as you'd expect even if you're not new to extreme experiments like this!

Yet it is also remarkably enjoyable to listen to, those aforementioned classical influences coming across almost as hooks in points, making for an epic vibe compatible to Bölzer at their finest. One moment Zoetrope is rumbling along with crashing drums and widdling guitars, the next it ascends into utterly ominous doom, vocals a bleak growl echoing atop. It's full of melodies, often twisted and corrupted by the heaviness surrounding them yet still clearly audible thanks to a mix and master job done by Greg Chandler of Esoteric (capital letter optional!) fame. As a whole the EP sounds tremendous, not at all plastic or fake but with a wonderful guitar tone and audible bass, and even the ambient moments are incredible in effect, harrowing shrieks buried in the distance while piano and strings melancholically dirge in the foreground.

Qrixkuor manage to make these moments absurdly beautiful for what they are and with knowledge of what surrounds them, and the impact of the metallic elements resuming are colossal. Worth pointing out, too, that this is a long piece that uses its length well, spaced effectively and with a clear sense of the journey being undertaken. The way that, for instance, the band open up a little around the seventeen minute mark for some air with some triumphant horns behind the violence is clever writing, and the closing section that hits peak grandiosity is enough to make the whole listen worthwhile in its own sake. A fantastic EP from an act that continues to impress and easily one of 2022's high marks, Qrixkuor is a band well worth your time and ears.

A vinyl release is due in 2023. Distribution handled by Dark Descent Records in the USA.

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