There are those certain CDs you love off the bat. You put it in the CD player in your car, and it stays there for months on end. After a while, you start thinking maybe you're done with it for a bit, but you keep it there just to be sure. Then there's the CDs you buy and try to return the exact same day, just hoping you'll get your precious $10 back. So where does Song Of Zarathustra's The Birth Of Tragedy lie? Pretty much smack dab in the middle.
To describe their sound, if possible, it should first be known that on recordings they've used a drum machine. They do have a live drummer, who's fully capable of everything performed on this record, but they've chosen to go the drum machine route for this, and their other full length, A View From High Tides. In any event, SOZ combines "the speedy math rock complexity of Drive Like Jehu, with the art-punk hysteria of Antioch Arrow, and the artillery power of Nuerosis." This description is according to Epitonic.com, and I'd say it's fitting to a certain extent. The description is sort of misleading though, because this sounds more like straightforward hardcore than it does a fusion of those three. The result works in certain instances, others not as much.
After the minute or so intro, the album immediately kicks into "Mess Of Zero." The song starts off in an eerie mood, with the sounds of an organ resonating before the vocals actually kick in. The organ is done on a keyboard, as the lead singer handles the band's keyboard duties as well. Then the vocals and guitar kick in. I've actually never noticed this until listening to the song at this very moment, but the vocals are quite intense while still giving off sort of a "bouncy" feel. The shredding and stopping on a dime of the guitars, accompanied by the frenzied screaming just makes you want to bob your head. You almost get sort of a Blood Brothers-type feel for the song - almost. But that'll be the end of that comparison, because at no other point in this album does that comparison sound true. The keyboards may lead some people to draw that line, but none of the rest of the music matches. None of the songs here really stand out all that much, but the intensity of the music keeps things interesting. And clocking in at only 22 minutes or so, it doesn't ever really have the time to wear out its welcome. The 12 songs all hover at about the two minute mark or less, just enough for the songs to really hit you. There is an instrumental song on here to stir things up a bit, a keyboard driven-song with a pretty solid guitar-accented crescendo to finish things up.
Lyrically, Song Of Zarathustra's true intent comes out. They're all Nihlist, and pretty big on the ideas of Friedrich Nietzsche, those being that traditional philosophy and religion are erroneous, and thus harmful to human life. "Anxious for what the future forsees? / All temptations, release... / Believe and receive." It's pretty obvious that their ideals are spread right across the lyrics page. I'm sure some will complain they can't get into the music because of the clash of ideologies they share with the band, but the vocals are so incoherent that even looking at the lyrics sheet it's tough to understand. What you cannot hear cannot affect you.
When all is said and done, these guys lay some really solid music on the table here. It's fast, furious, and there's no Vin Diesel. If that's not appealing to a fan of hardcore, I don't know what is.