ZUN - Burial Sunrise
Small Stone Recordings
Desert Rock
6 songs (37' 26")
Release year: 2016
Reviewed by Andy

For fans of the Palm Desert rock style, ZUN practically qualifies as a supergroup, combining Gary Arce of Yawning Man, John Garcia of Kyuss, and Sera Timms of Ides of Gemini, whose EP we reviewed last year. Don't expect stoner-style sludge, though. Ringing guitars and psychedelic stylings are the order of the day, which makes sense, since Arce wrote all the songs. But the treatment the vocalists give each song heavily influences which mood it delivers.

The ones sung by Garcia are melancholy and echoing, calling to mind a huge desert landscape that needs a long, strange trip to cross. The guitars scrape metallicly in the background, with louder, more abrasive guitars soloing in the front, while Garcia sings along in his soft, bluesy voice supported by a thumping, rhythmic bass. All the tracks sound like a jam, especially Garcia's, with Nothing Farther, my favorite, being the one with the most direction to it; All for Nothing, and especially All That You Say I Am, are more wandering, though there is a subtle undercurrent of speed to them under all that seemingly-aimless guitar work, provided by the steady thrumming of the bass. The long guitar instrumentals have a way of pushing little melodies to the top in a brief mirage before vanishing in favor of the main sound.

Garcia's voice is good, but Sera Timms', which is darker and cooler, promises to be more appealing to the metal fan. Arce's songs seem to take on a grimmer and more mysterious feeling as she sings; the guitar and drums get more focused and the bass heads off on a minor key. Solar Incantation's rhythmic jump matches a profound delivery that gets as close to a shout as one has ever seen Timms get, and Come Through the Water's slower and more measured passages give way to a quicker, stronger beat as her choruses gain strength and vocal layers. The two vocalists don't sing together, and while their alternating songs may be arranged such that "night follows day" throughout the album, this has the disadvantage of sounding sometimes more like a mix tape than like the product of a single band. Garcia makes his tracks sound like Yawning Man songs, and Timms makes hers sound like Ides of Gemini songs, and there seems to be little interest in making the whole better than the sum of its parts.

Regardless of my nitpicks, no one can say a group like ZUN lacks for talent, and just the Sera Timms tracks alone are worthy of note -- it's pretty hard to get tired of her singing. The Kyuss sound that some might hope for is completely absent from here, but psychedelic desert rock abounds, and if you're into that you should check this out.

Bandcamp: https://smallstone.bandcamp.com/album/burial-sunrise.

Killing Songs :
Nothing Farther, Solar Incantation, Come Through the Water
Andy quoted 76 / 100
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