|©2012 Pest Productions
1. Winter Mirage
2. Valley of Loneness
I find it impressive that the underground, raw black metal style has somehow infected listeners in nearly every part of the globe, at least anywhere they can find an electric guitar and some recording equipment (as well as facepaint so anyone from any ethnic background can be an evil panda). Apparently the internet firewalls haven't kept the evil music from reaching China, which is establishing a few acts playing the style. Zuriaake (their English-ized name) is one such example and so far one of the more interesting ones I've heard. They've only released a split album and a full length in their existence and apparently are on hiatus. This recent EP, Winter Mirage, apparently was a bonus disc to their 2007 album, Afterimage of Autumn. Its two tracks serve as a rather good introduction to the band.
Their sound is the slower, more shimmering atmospheric style of black metal, which fortunately bypasses the goth infusion that littered the style for awhile. To a degree, I suspect their sound is not completely by choice, but by necessity as the recording isn't the most top notch you'll ever hear. That said, it still is mixed and recorded well enough to present the band's song ideas. The title track is actually quite interesting, with a foundation built on a good bass line that adds a bit of depth. They also include occasional instrumentation that might be unique to China (a sort of xylophone type of melodic percussion instrument, if my ears are correct...it could also be a keyboard using samples of some sort for all I know). They use those ever so sparsely so it doesn't dominate the mix or proceedings. In fact, you can hear solid roots in the old Norwegian black metal scene, though it has a slightly different take on matters.
While Winter Mirage isn't going to appeal to anyone outside of those who have a fixation on underground black metal, this EP does stand out from the pack as being two well conceived songs. And the fact that the EP is but fifteen minutes long helps prevent the listening experience from going overlong. I do hope Zuriaake returns from whatever hiatus they are on because I'd be curious to see where they take their sound in the future.
Review by John Chedsey
Review date: 02/2012