Review: “Self Titled” by Azken Auzi

Searching for catharsis and an outlet through which to explore the darker and tormented side of their understanding of music, a trio of seasoned veterans known for their work in Death Metal act Maniac and Noisy Rock outfit Tom Is Fat, embarked on a journey into Sludge infused Doom Metal. Taking the moniker Azken Auzi, meaning “last lawsuit” in Basque as their own, they broke free of the chains of a winter of discontent in Toulon France in the Spring of 2021 with a handful of cuts and a demo for “I Hate You” and began booking shows. It was only a matter of time before Italian label and genre specialists Argonauta Records identified them as their next target and sent Ludovic “Frozen” Tabouret (vocals, guitars), Fredéric Rondonnet (drums) and Laurent Deramchi (bass) to the studio to record their debut full length…

A dark self loathing prophecy bound in chains and sent to the bottom of the ocean with nothing but a concrete block for company, “Disgrace” is a classic brooding mid tempo chugger wraps everything in a glorious layer of fuzz with hints of the melodies of bands like Evergreen Terrace buried deep within. Tabouret barks monolithically in prison guard fashion while off kilter rhythmic moments shroud him in a cloak of darkness, the slow headbanging riff worshippers called from all corners of the barren land to witness cracks appearing in the earth created by the sheer intensity of the sound. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? There are arguments both ways but a self titled track on a self titled record can reach Inception levels of confusion on drunken nights however here it is a tasty treat that could well appear on a Quentin Tarantino film soundtrack. In a similar veins to the work of bands like Scuzz, it dances between graves as a Sludge monster that packs a rhythmic punch while removing the need for vocals. Never approaching those shoegazing levels it instead remains captivating throughout, touching the void into the darkness in almost meditative fashion and paving the way for “I Hate You“. A cut with tinges of genre pioneers Crowbar in the riff department, the track immediately stands out as Tabouret screams out the simple and yet cathartic message of the title amid swirling dark melodies buried in feedback. Tabouret could use in a stint in rehab, the dull ache of his vocal suggesting that there is something that lies beneath that his lyrical narrative won’t touch, his corrosive if a little primitive vocals strike a chord as he wails with a maddening grit and integrity that is second to none.

Thunderous percussive battery ensures that “RHO Scorpii” has all the power it needs, the chunky bassline allowed to bleed out in style as once again what would otherwise be a delicate flower of a melody is masked by the weight of the guitar tone and Sludge Doom stylings. If allowed to evolve there is no doubt that it could grow into into a Progressive or even Post-Rock soundscape, so perhaps the future of Azken Auzi could be very different as it escapes the bleak nature of some of the earlier cuts and grows warm like the change of a season. That is however short lived with the seven minute magnum opus that is “KRLH” which adds an arty touch with a spoken word that harks back to the 90’s Hardcore scene and a surprise “Bleigh!” moment. The hypnotically swirling riffs at times remind of “The Destruction Of a Person” by Philip H Anselmo project Superjoint aka Superjoint Ritual as they play out, the cold winds ushering in a time of change with a style and grace that the untrained eye will not witness. Dispensing with the vocals for “Home” and instead using a couple of well timed samples to augment the sound, the final encapsulating instrumental lurches with distorted riffage as the drums pound to create a slow burn that builds the mountain once more in crushing meditative fashion. A tasteful drop off for an acoustic moment at the end harks back to Alice In Chains unplugged in New York, again adding a dimension to something which has far more to it than meets the eye [7.5/10]

Track Listing

  1. Disgrace
  2. Azken Auzi
  3. I Hate You
  4. RHO Scorpii
  5. KRLH
  6. Home

Self Titled” by Azken Auzi is out 13th January 2023 via Argonauta Records

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