Album: Zeolite – EP
If there is one thing my undergraduate studies in biochemistry taught me, it’s that chemical reactions—when left to occur naturally—can take forever. Think about it: you’re depending on randomized collisions of entire moles of participles to happen either in sequence or with some degree of accuracy. Unless you’re incredibly patient, you probably won’t get anywhere—and what about reactions that occur within our bodies that we need to survive? In that context, the needs for catalysts become paramount. Zeolite is a molecular sieve that happens to be one of the best ones you can get—but for our current use, Zeolite happens to be a band that combine careful, creative song structure with megatons of explosive energy. Coupled with an intangible source of catchiness that Zeolite seem to master, you get their debut EP—an excellent display of fast-paced, progressive metalcore that many other bands have tried to piece together on their own without the proper means to make work half as well.
One part bouncy and energetic, one part devastatingly heavy and one part shred-laden and technically savvy, Zeolite’s debut EP is a chimeric, comprehensive display of heavy musicianship does masterfully. From the opening passage of “Seligman’s Curse,” Zeolite’s instrumentation roars forth with every cylinder firing at maximum capacity. Percussionist Jimmy Howard makes absolutely certain of that—with lightning fast footwork on “Seligman’s Curse” and mind-boggling hand coordination on “The Dramaturgy Perspective of a Theorist,” Howard’s talent is peerless when it comes to heavier side of progressive metalcore. The entirety of Zeolite’s self-titled EP sees Howard unleashing hell behind the kit—whether it’s with insane fills or with unmatched footwork. Even in spite of Howard’s speed, however, bassist Lucas Tolputt is able to match his candor, keeping up with his fleet feet in order to add depth and resonance to every thick smack of the kick drum. “Seneca the Younger” is a stellar example; Tolputt’s bass adds density to Howard’s kit, yet doesn’t steal the show from guitarist Patrick Haas. Rather, Tolputt joins Howard’s percussion and Haas’ hectic fretwork, giving the trio a synchronized, steamrolling dynamic that hits the listener like a shotgun to the chest. Haas ranges from nu-influenced grooves on “Faustus” and “Seligman’s Curse” to shreddy, riff-heavy writing on “The Dramaturgy Perspective of a Theorist” and “Brath of Kaiser.” Where Howard’s drumming and Tolputt’s thick bass work are a constant, Haas oscillates readily in his style to avoid monotony, all the while keeping the listener firmly engaged in the EP.
With catchy grooves, fast-paced riffs and brutality a plenty, frontman Fraser Mainwaring has no shortage of material upon which to bellow, shriek and shout. Ranging from grisly, gritty cleans on “Seligman’s Curse” to subterranean low bellows on “Seneca the Younger” or ear-splitting shrieks on “Brath of Kaiser,” Mainwaring is a master of range and variety—relying on a baseline mid-range yell and deviating from it as needed to keep the listener on the edge of their seat. What’s more, is while his range is sprawling, his flow is tight and focused, while his endurance is seemingly never-ending. The sprawling “Brath of Kaiser” is likely the best example of Mainwaring’s mastery over harsh vocals. Showcasing his endurance throughout the 5-and-a-half-minute track, his range is exemplary, as is his vocal patterning. “Brath of Kaiser,” as well as a solid majority of the EP, see Mainwaring at the top of his game—rarely succumbing to somewhat stagnant moments of songs where he leans too heavily on his mid range without switching it up.
Where Zeolite’s instrumentation is nothing short of immaculate and their vocal effort is certainly in the genre’s upper-most echelons, the band’s debut EP certainly has a figurative “learning curve.” The first, and even second times through leave the listener somewhat…boggled. Each song is so densely packed with intricate, intelligent and conceptually rich material that by the time “Brath of Kaiser” is complete, the listener may be feeling ever so slightly brain dead. However, after the listener grows accustomed to following the dynamic interplay between Howard and Haas, or can keep up with Mainwaring’s tongue-twisters, Zeolite’s debut opens up into an oasis of pure originality. The simplest way to put it is this: the past two years I have worked with 500 different albums by different bands, yet not one has had the same mysterious and intangible feel that Zeolite have had. Heavy enough to hold their own against some of Australia’s weightier metalcore acts, yet technically savvy enough to appeal to music snobs world-wide, Zeolite have an enigmatic element to them that, much like their namesake, takes their respective components and pieces and arranges them in a way that makes the end result infinitely more appealing.
For Fans Of: Iconoclast, Advocates, Barrier, Zealot
By: Connor Welsh