Blame Zeus – Laudanum (Self-Released)

Monday, 2nd October 2023
Rating: 9 / 10

Previously coming to our attention through their Bandcamp analysis of their second album Theory of Perception in 2017, Portugal’s Blame Zeus released Seethe in the last quarter of 2019 on Rockshots Records. Although satisfying on a critical (and personal) level, the band obviously could not support the record as they had hoped through the COVID-19 crisis. All is not lost, as the quintet dug deep into their well of creativity and passion to unleash this latest effort Laudanum (definition: an alcoholic solution containing morphine, prepared from opium and formerly used as a narcotic painkiller). Incorporating a set of influences across the alternative metal, rock, progressive, doom, even blues landscapes – the energetic, emotional dynamics at play ensure quite an intoxicating, mood mover of an experience through each and every successive playback.

The lyrical themes across the ten tracks convey vocalist Sandra Oliveira’s depression/anxiety issues – from introspective trauma/darkness through chemical treatment onto the journey of serenity and self-discovery. Her magnificent, soulful meets powerhouse delivery often sends chills across the aural landscape – coloring the melodies of favorites like “The Void” as well as the groovy builder “Stitch” with everything from passion to reflective resilience. Expect musicianship that also balances the proper push to pull heaviness/softness with that extra finesse in all the right spaces – emotive lead break phrasing that services the song at hand in addition to exciting, progressive elements that are not too flashy. Influences run the gamut – 90’s alternative acts like Tool, Alice in Chains to Clutch, doom, or even current favorites Oceans of Slumber spring to mind when hearing standouts like the single “Left For Dead”, the calmer, alluring ballad “Asleep In the Stars” or rhythmically seductive transformational cut “Resuscitate” where counterpoint clean guitars and bass set a cool ambiance for the heavier parts to match the vocal momentum Sandra unlocks during the bridge/chorus.

Add in a vibrant sound in terms of the tones/production achieved as well as a mesmerizing Gustavo Sazes cover art and it’s apparent that Blame Zeus are ready to move beyond their domestic/ European appeal and expand their worldwide following through Laudanum. The best records in any style move to connect people in ways unforeseen – and that’s what this material achieves, and so much more. Heavy music fans, alternative metal followers, even doom, rock, or soul lovers will find this infinitely rewarding as well as appeasing.

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