Review: REZN ‘Burden’

I listen to quite a bit of extreme metal, whether it is death, black, doom, sludge, or any of the amalgamations of such styles. Much of the time, it tends to be on the darker side with occasional uplifting moments. The band REZN has tended to appeal to the lighter and more relaxing side for me. While their previous albums have always had heavy riffs and moments in which they explore the darker side of heavy music, I have always considered them to be more psychedelic than doom. Burden sees the band really leaning into the big riffs and darker side of what they are capable of, with this being their heaviest release to date.

REZN 'Burden' Artwork
REZN ‘Burden’ Artwork

The album art certainly reflects this change in style, being a yawning chasm (which happens to be the name of the closing track, Chasm) opening to what appears to be a hellscape of magma. Since receiving the vinyl, I have found myself gazing upon the album cover during my listening sessions. Also note that this art (painted by the incredibly gifted Nightjar Illustration) is a part of the same image from the previous album cover. Solace showed the peaks of mountains and the river flowing along the valleys, Burden shows the hell beneath them.

The first notes of Indigo jump straight into what I am familiar with from REZN, clean guitar with heavy reverb and delay from Rob McWilliams. This quickly is joined by monstrous and heavily fuzzed out riffs from Phil Cangelosi who provides the rumble from down under on bass. This was the moment in which I thought ‘oh, so they are going heavy on this album. SICK!’ The atmosphere is so stifling, it feels as though one has been forced into a cavern with no air. Fortunately, this is complemented by the synths from Spencer Ouelette filling in the high register and making the song breathe. What an absolute genius way to open an album.

As the album continues, Instinct begins with brilliant work between all four members in creating a totally psyched out intro. Moments like these showcase how well the band operate together, with each member playing just the right amount and never being selfish. Guitar, bass and synth feed off each other while Patrick Dunn gives everything a backbone to groove on. Speaking of Dunn, his distinct style of drumming has become instantly recognizable to me and plays a huge part in giving REZN their unique sound. Back to the song at hand, the chorus has become a favorite of mine from the band. I constantly find myself singing ‘Hanging onto the razor’s edge’.

Guitar, bass and synth feed off each other…

I see the next two songs as one, as Descent Of Sinuous Corridors is essentially just an introduction to Bleak Patterns. The latter is already the longest song on the album, pushing seven minutes. With the intro included, it is nearly eight minutes of the most progressive song on the album and is chock full of beautiful leads, pummeling riffs, a solo, and tempo changes.

The group returns to the cleaner and more psychedelic sound over the next two songs, with a slower pace and mostly clean guitar. There are still crushing, fuzzy bass riffs on the chorus of Collapse (the bass tone on this album is absolutely incredible, especially when fuzzed out). Soft Prey is by far the most chilled-out track on the album and even sees a little bit of saxophone, which has not been as prominent on this, or their previous release.

For the album close, the pummeling opening notes of Chasm instantly let the listener know REZN is going all out heavy on this one. The entire song is structured around this riff, letting it bloom throughout. The final passage gives the feeling of being sucked into a hellish portal and is sure to cause some headbanging for anyone listening. It is their heaviest song to date, and I will die on that hill. I was fortunate enough to see them play it live recently and it is even more crushing in that setting, with the guitar solo (recorded by Mike Sullivan of Russian CIrcles) being covered by Spencer on the sax.

While we are talking about saxophone, as in Solace there is much less than in previous releases. While not necessarily a negative aspect, I do miss how prevalent it was in Chaotic Divine. However, the last two times I have seen REZN live, there is much more sax than in the albums, and it makes the live experience a very unique and intimate experience. With that said, Burden is certainly going to be one of my favorite albums of 2024. I am really looking forward to seeing what this band does in the future as they seem to release fantastic albums again and again.

Label: Sargent House
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Scribed by: Ben Brackin