Sunday, June 25, 2017 This Week's Paper


// 'Old Haunts'

Listening to Czar could be considered auditory overload; it is to your ears what walking down the Las Vegas Strip at night can be to your eyes. There is so much going on in their songs that it is overwhelming at times.

This Tacoma band was known as Osama bin Rockin’ until a recent name change. They just released this CD. A posting on one website described them as a progressive, post-grind band. This reviewer is inclined to describe their music as part progressive rock, part heavy metal and part jazz-fusion.

The CD begins with “Elwood.” Right from the start Czar establishes they are quite different from any other band around here. For one thing this song is long, clocking in at eight minutes, 54 seconds.

The singer’s vocal style fits the torment displayed in the lyrics. “I don’t mean to be such a cutthroat/ but in my experience/ a friend for a while/ becomes a villain with a smile.”

At the 3:38 mark the music goes in a direction that recalls Primus, another very talented group that could best be described as experimental rock. This is a very busy composition.

“Never Shoot The Pilot” begins with keyboards. Next comes guitar with a discordant tone. The vocals get somewhat harsh on this number, but the lyrics display skill with words. “You want to inspire but fail to amaze/ chewing iron doesn’t make you half or whole a man.”

“Le Tenia” begins at a slow pace. The keyboards enter smoothly, suggesting an influence of 1970s prog rock. Then the tempo speeds up.

The lyrics are introspective – about a person trying to come to grips with some deep inner turmoil. “The trouble is my foolishness and depravity knows no bounds/ I might as well be shaking hands with the hangman.”

The one tune that does not overwhelm the listener is “Amends.” It opens with guitar playing a melodic part. The song is rather mellow, with piano playing pleasant notes.

“Clay Pigeon” opens with a bass line that may have been inspired by Les Claypool from Primus or Jaco Pastorius, the late jazz fusion legend.

The composition quickly gets complex, with the drumming all over the place. About two minutes in it reveals some jazz-fusion influence. The guitar solo is short but tasteful.

“Sluts For Satan” is told from the perspective of a man who has been burned by a few women. “Hall and Oates’ ‘Man Eater’ warned us about the sharks in the water/ but no one ever told us about the ones that kept sharks in their garters.”

Czar will not be everyone’s cup of tea. This is not easy music to listen to. But the band’s talent is considerable. They are not playing standard headbanging music in 4/4 time. They are doing something unique, and for that they are to be commended.

Czar plays Hell’s Kitchen in Tacoma on Dec. 31.