JZZBLK’s Welcome Reviewed

JZZBLK are a little known Swedish group that released their first EP in June of this year, Welcome. Some might call this prog metal, but I’m not sure it really fits any obvious style. It has lots of jazz influences, but also lots of experimental elements and some punkish parts.

That sounds like it might be a really disjointed mess, but I think the whole thing works well and stays consistent throughout. The first track exemplifies this fusion. It starts with an abstract introduction which is a reworking of a later motif, and then settles into downtempo punk type of thing. It shifts into an amorphous collection of chromaticism and dies into a single guitar playing an arpeggio ostinato.

This idea keeps getting passed around the band for a minute or so as it builds slowly with more and more instruments and voices all the way up to a giant climactic moment. This is extremely well executed in a classical sense. The build is patient and done with instrumentation, rhythm, and harmonic intensity. Just as the chaos gets to a tipping point, the main motif gets played homophonically.

The song then breaks from the unity back into chaos with a new technical and chromatic breakdown of the idea. To wrap the song up we get a return to the beginning. Overall this album is fun and exciting to listen to. It makes you pause and wonder how something that can be so strange and technical at parts still seems to be so enjoyable. The answer is easy enough: they aren’t afraid to employ some typical rock elements.

The second song’s beginning drags a little for me, but really ramps up to the excitement of the first track after a little bit. The third track feels a bit like filler, but I’m not sure what they are trying to fill since it is a 29 minute self-released EP. Maybe I’m missing something on that one.

The fourth track is a deviation from the first two. This one definitely fits more in line with the prog metal label with a fretless bass and the most robust harmonic material of the album. It is also stylistically the most unified without much shifting around like the first two. The last track is closer to the first one with clear motivic material that gets passed around and developed into different styles.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time with this one and I’m excited to see where this band goes next. They have a very good sense of how to develop material and play in different styles while keeping a unity to the song. They also understand how to build climaxes, which is extremely rare in metal which tends to keep things loud and fast all the time. I give it an 8.5/10. Here’s a sample:

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2 thoughts on “JZZBLK’s Welcome Reviewed

  1. Pacheco says:

    Man, I would be really interested in hearing your opinion on Gorguts’ Obscura and Atheist’ Unquestionable Presence! Two great albums that would surely piquee your interest!

    You have a fascinating site. Keep it up!

  2. Ryan says:

    Just wanted to say that this is an excellent blog! Its really helped me explain and think more critically about why I like certain music (hard to do when you enjoy the technical or weird stuff but aren’t versed in theory). Plus it has introduced me to some fascinating music. Great stuff. 🙂

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