Zalem – στίγμα (2011)


Packaged in a lush cardboard digipack, today we have Zalem’s debut album “στίγμα”. These French post-rockers have gone all out and released a two-disc epic that will surely draw them a lot of attention from the post-rock scene. While we get tons of Post-Rock releases for review, we are particularly drawn to Zalem’s album because of the progressive elements that have been incorporated to the music, making it more engaging and diverse.

After the warm-up intro “How To Operate Your Brain”, the band fully explodes into a 12-minute cinematic track that features a hefty amount of mood changes. Aptly titled “Missing”, this track will make you realize that you where indeed missing out on some great music if you haven’t heard Zalem before. The string instruments used in this track are excellent and add that extra dimension to the band’s sound, making them sometimes resemble a more progressive version of Tenhi and similar bands.

Keeping the ethereal vibe going, “Hypnotic Oblivion” delivers excellent percussions mixed perfectly crafted distorted guitars. This song nicely continues the flow of the album and delivers some very hypnotic sections. After a very traditional post-rock interlude track with some very interesting spoken words, “Five Hours, Twenty-Six Minutes And A Few Light Years To Reach The Interstellar Space” is the next track that is clear winner of the longest-track name in post-rock history. In this song, the tempo is tuned back a bit to create a more peaceful and trippy song. The string instruments again provide that extra something that will help you differentiate Zalem from the rest.

Just before closing the first CD, the band unleashes another 10 minute mammoth track titled “Inside The Dark Nebulae”. In this song the overall mood is a bit darker and somber with some extra ‘aggressive’ parts that nicely contrast the clean ones. This song also provides a nice buildup with some tight drumming and powerful riffs.

The second CD opens with another enigmatic track with spoken words, just before bleeding into the best song of the album (in our opinion) “Twin Sal”. In this awesome track, the band goes very aggressive in some points and nicely contrasts them with very ethereal slowdown sections. We have probably listened to this track over 30 times in the last few weeks (and it is over 12 minutes long!), and we still can’t get enough of it.

Moving on, “Pandemonium Redux” delivers some powerful guitar riffs and a very hectic mood compared to the rest of the tracks. The minimalist track “Valley of Hearts Delight” is a nice tempo changer that keeps the flow of the album nicely going up and down. The final track is a monumental piece that lasts over 30 minutes (because it has 6 blank minutes) and it’s titled “Panorama Ephemera”. In this song the band takes advantage of its length and slowly builds up the track. There are even some vocals in this song, which we found quite refreshing and interesting.

With great musical skills and excellent songwriting, this release is by far one of the most cinematic and engaging albums of the genre we have received in 2011, so you should definitely make an effort and try to find this amazing release. If you are looking for some good post-rock, you should be searching for Zalem at least at their bandcamp site.

Band: Zalem Album: στίγμα
Label: Grammatical Records

Release: October 1st, 2011

Oficial Site myspace
Genre: Progressive Post-Rock

Country: France

Rating: 86/100

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