Zetra are a London two-piece consisting of Adam (guitar & vocals) and Jordan (synthesiser & vocals) who formed in the summer of 2018. This nine track Self-Titled EP quickly follows up the two volume With Your Demons set (released May 2020) and will be available digitally on Death Waltz. It is a concept piece centred around the doomed tale of Russian cosmonaut Vladimir Komorov, the first human to die in a space flight in 1967 when a parachute failure caused his Soyuz capsule to crash after entering the earth’s atmosphere.
The cover is of Adam and Jordan wrapped in chains and adopting an image that, to me, resembles the cover of Songs The Lord Taught Us by The Cramps with a little Sigue Sigue Sputnik silliness thrown in for good measure. The EP opens with a short atmospheric instrumental piece titled A Death In Space that sounds a little akin to an astronaut’s muffled breathing, which going by the theme makes perfect sense.
Phaethon features some pretty crunching gothic doom metal style riffing reminiscent of the much missed Type O Negative (RIP Pete Steele). The waves of synth and ambient style background noise corresponds with My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless era. This is a gorgeous and affective track. Ithaca starts with fairly dramatic keyboard effects while the melancholic doom metal thunders away in the background, this contrasts and compliments each other and fits nicely with the ethereal Belinda Butcher vocal style.
Satellite starts off with some hard hitting Sabbath riffing with a guitar line that instantly brought to mind Fairies Wear Boots. However this isn’t just doom metal by numbers, the track also recalls early Gary Numan (before the ill-advised funk detours of the mid 80’s with Bill Sharpe), this makes for an intriguing yet effective combination. Union is the shortest ‘proper’ track on the album (A Death In Space was a brief introductory soundscape) and has a 90s alt-rock/power-pop type sensibility, brining to mind early Weezer and That Dog. It is a necessary and pleasant change from the crushing doom synth we’ve had so far.
I could never have imagined two disparate genres, such as coldwave and gothic doom metal, being put together so effectively as Zetra have accomplished to brilliant effect…
Normal Behaviour is the longest track on the EP at seven and a half minutes, building up slowly with a slightly restrained feel, there is a slight death doom intonation that reminds me of a slightly less aggressive Draconian Times era Paradise Lost. Next we have the track Urania which makes one think the pre Britpop era Shoegaze goodness of Lush as well as the heavier gothic melodrama of underrated Staten Island outfit Pist.On.
Penultimate track Descent is a song that will break your heart, reminding one a little of Suicide’s Surrender. Like that track, I would call Descent a mournful doo wop ballad that will leave you blubbing, offering you a somewhat cathartic experience. Final track Ascendant is a Brian Eno/Jean Michel Jarre ambient slab of meditative bliss. It conjures up the epic loneliness and hopelessness of space and brings the record full circle, mirroring the atmospheric nature of the opening track and thus making for the perfect conclusion of Zetra.
I absolutely loved this EP, I could never have imagined two disparate genres, such as coldwave and gothic doom metal, being put together so effectively as Zetra have accomplished to brilliant effect. The band manage to inject fresh life into the fairly stale and overpopulated doom genre without falling into the traps of pretension. I highly recommend visiting their Bandcamp page and also checking out their cover of Mr Tambourine Man as it too, like this EP, is a joy to behold.
Scribed by: Reza Mills