REVIEW: Zeolite – Sermones Mortis [EP/2018]

Artist: Zeolite 

Album: Sermones Mortis – EP 


Grim. Darkness, despair—bleak in every way shape and form—climbing in every orifice and suffocating every thought that even hints at happiness. It puts dreams of a brighter, better tomorrow to rest; it is a violent end to a violent life, lived in a violent word—the type of violence that transcends carnage and death and evolves to involve desiccation and devastation of the human spirit. 

It is bereft of all optimism. It is a pit that consumes every ounce of life in its way. 

It is Sermones Mortis, a collection of harrowing, hellishly heavy tracks by Zeolite—a band who broke the mold with their debut offering but have since been silent—back to unleash apocalyptic aggression uon the heavy music community once more. Sermones is somber and skull-splitting all in one, effortlessly blending atmosphere and awe-inspiring brutality in a way that takes the likes of the proggy, groovy Meshuggah and tosses it in a blender with Black Tongue, The Acacia Strain and Baphomet.  

By now, your head is probably spinning—but just what can you expect from Sermones Mortis? Read on to find out. 

Sermones Mortis is a masterful amalgamation of hard-hitting progressive metal, death metal, deathcore and a little bit of that intangible Australian aggression that make Zeolite a truly remarkable force to be feared. From the full-force power of “Malignant,” through the annals of “Repudiation” and well into “Ruination,” the band keep their energy at a sharp peak, combining immense grooves and grisly, gut-wrenching breakdowns—all filled out with spacey, atmospheric elegance—that keep the listener in a trance. Live percussionist Raymond Martin is a master behind the skins, without a doubt, pounding and pummeling away during the chest-thumping, heart-rending seconds of “Malignant” wherein the listener feels as if they’re mere seconds away from mass murder. Meanwhile, “Repudiation” is a more balanced and lengthy voyage through blackened elements and progressive, fluid groove—a voyage that sees Martin’s percussion steering Zeolite into ultra-aggressive depths and dizzying, hypnotic segments. This track—as much of the EP does—sees Martin working with bassist Lucas Tolputt, who, as a duo, bring low, grimy power to the deeper, darker register of Sermones. “Ruination” witnesses this full-force, with a series of crushing breakdowns and immolating moments where Tolputt’s bass amplifies not only Martin’s playing, but the fretwork from guitarists Patrick Haas and Grant Mcguinness. These two bring Zeolite’s true unique nature into the forefront of the listener’s attention span—as much of Sermones is a testament to their incredible talent in both technical musicianship and in their ability to effortlessly blend heavy styles to make something fun, fresh and furious. “Malignant” sees Haas and Mcguinness working excellently from the get-go, just as the epic “Repudiation” sees them accepting the challenges put forth by Martin’s drumming to let loose some scalding, scintillating leads that slice and cut away at the listener’s sanity. The result is a full-force, not-holds-barred, great, glorious shit show of spectacular heavy musicianship that keeps the listener entrenched in brutality for the better part of thirty minutes. 

However, as Sermones Mortis’ name might subtly imply, things only get darker, more solemn and more scathing with consideration of the bands crushing vocal element. Frontman Fraser Mainwaring absolutely dominates every second of Zeolite’s sophomore offering, hitting the listener with a barrage of blistering vocal styles. “Malignant” is murky, gritty and plays to Mainwaring’s lower vocal register, just as moments of “Ruination” see his higher range scraping the sky, reaching up towards space only to crash down like a meteor atop the listener’s skull with the otherworldly vocal prowess on “Repudiation.” This is all miraculous—as while you likely won’t see Mainwaring’s name amid the likes of Dickie Allen, Ben Duerr, or any of the other vocally majestic sweethearts of the last couple years, you can certainly find no end to the things there is to love about his voice. Mainwaring expertly captures despair, devastation, depression and the corollary—incinerating anger and hatred—on many of the tracks throughout Sermones‘ running time. Learning from Zeolite’s debut (a solid album plagued by a lack of things that really set it apart), Mainwaring—and all of the band—work diligently on Sermones to make something beautiful in a brutalizing and brooding way. 

Sermones Mortis lives up to the bleak name and demonic insinuation made by its title. That’s really all that needs to be said—although I think I’ve made it clear that there’s plenty else to say. Heavy, dark and creatively crushing from start to finish, Zeolite’s assault on 2018 is an immense and unyielding one, giving fans of black, doom, traditional death metals all something to enjoy hidden within a bouncy, groovy, hyperaggressive deathcore frame. Listen closely—the songs that Zeolite craft and let loose are the same songs that cull the overdense heard of look-alike, sound-alike acts that serve as the bands contemporaries. 



For Fans Of: Oceano, Black Tongue, Depths, Graves 

By: Connor Welsh