Album Review: GOZU Equilibrium
The newest record from Gozu, Equilibrium—out this week on Metal Blade Records and Blacklight Media—is going to catch listeners off guard. On the instrumental level, things appear fine as the album progresses with all of its rock and roll banter. But the further one goes, they’ll find that Equilibrium is all about grieving and the pain that comes from losing someone you love.
These themes come from the passing of vocalist/guitarist Marc Gaffney’s father. Each song encompasses the lost he feels about never being able to speak or see his dad again. It’s interesting then to note that for the most part, the instrumental atmosphere is playful and full of adrenaline. Opening track, “Ricky 'The Dragon’ Steamboat”, is a direct shot of high-energy rock and roll. Drummer Mike Hubbard lays down a mid-tempo heavy rhythm, clashing away at the chorus. Throughout the song’s progression, both guitarists Doug Sherman and Gaffney let loose a wild fusion of grunge and stoner rock. Bassist Joe Grotto contributes a funky flow, with all the instrumentals whiplashing forward.
On paper, this sort of instrumental combination may sound a little too much for songs about loss and grieving; but in actuality, they all work in favor for the themes, amplifying each bit of emotional inflection from the vocals. “The People vs. Mr. T” brings down the tempo, the band as a whole drawing the instrumentation out to psychedelic drawls. The sonic sliding of guitar tones can be heard behind this as the drums and bass beat and pump away (respectively). The tempo picks up eventually, the guitars churning over with a sludgy appeal. Each note and chord trudges forward, emitting this hypnotic grit and haze.
Instrumentally, Equilibrium will either have you headbanging or in a trance. Gozu does a tremendous job of switching things up, infusing a variety of genres into their mix. That said, the core of their material keeps to a true sense of darkness, even if songs are riding away at wild speeds. The vocals are straight forward, but add enough emotion to the overall work to remain engaging.
“King Cobra” expands on the psychedelic tones, the guitar weaving about in droning twangs. Bass and drums remain consistent during the verse sections, with all facets of the band booming come the chorus. The guitar pitch lightens up, the bass and drumming layering on intensity as the vocals cry out, “What I knew from the moment/ All I had was shattered.” The heaviness returns in “They Probably Know Karate”, the guitar going from laid-back rhythms to dark distortions. The drumming is at some of its best here, keeping to a high tempo as it flies away.
Equilibrium is an interesting ride that offers a lot more than listeners may be expecting. The record provides a universal theme that people can connect with, while also presenting it with some truly wild instrumentation. Never do these elements clash together, but instead, come together to make some bombastic and heartfelt material.