London metal/theater troupe CalatrilloZ formed in 2009 but only recently released their first album, Psalms of Zahyin. They took this much time to put together not only the album but an elaborate back story and mythology to go with it. The band’s aim is to combine elements of phantasmagorical theatre with metal and opera music to create something that is part carnival, part metal spectacle, and all high-quality music.
Classical or opera music showing up in metal composition or styling is not a new concept. Most European and even some Asian metal owes its fast timing to classical composers like Beethoven. In many cases, metal guitar riffs are taken directly from classical works and there is a whole subset of metal called goth metal which incorporates operatic and classical gothic-era organs into the mix.
CalatrilloZ’s music definitely borrows heavily from classical, opera and gothic-era music. Composer and vocalist Zahyin creates each piece like a classical work with all the different parts composed and put together as a large performance piece or opera would be. Zahyin’s vocal timbre and style are definitely meant to be operatic in nature. His Iron Maiden-like metal scream also adds a tinge of 80s hair metal to the mix.
The theatre element comes into play with Psalms of Zahyin in the form of the carefully crafted persona of each member of the band, as well as the Victorian-inspired intro videos that go along with each. This ties back to the album in that it is supposed to be the first chapter in a series. Psalms of Zahyin tells the story of vocalist Zahyin, and presumably there will be other albums which incorporate the other members of the band: Moibus on bass, Azriel and Vargovar on guitars and Jimmy Sticks on drums. Each has a short introduction video on the band’s YouTube page, and it follows that their characters will be folded into CalatrilloZ’s music soon enough.
Psalms of Zahyin is in itself also a story with chapters. Origins is an introduction to the band’s style and gives a sort of macabre, fictional back story. The style fans will hear both in Origins and in the second track, Lords of Misery is primarily goth metal with some 80s thrash. Lords of Misery is very operatic in vocal style. I am Alive is the first single CalatrilloZ released from this album, and it is done in more of an 80s metal style. Mötley Crüe might be a good comparison for the opening guitars, while Zahyin’s vocals are muted compared to the first two tracks.
A Glimpse at a Fool’s Destiny, the album’s second pre-release, is a monster of a track which has a multi-styled approach and is possibly the best song on Psalms of Zahyin. Fans of goth metal will appreciate the organ-and-calliope-dominated opening and interludes throughout the track. There is also a touch of speed metal in the beginning of the song. The guitars vacillate between the hard and fast runs of death metal and the slower, more darkened tones of black metal. Vocally, Zahyin’s style changes as much as the guitars from truly opera-like theatrical tones to an almost storyteller style where the words seem as if they’re spoken rather than sung. There are so many parts to A Glimpse at a Fool’s Destiny that this epic song seems as though CalatrilloZ wanted to create another mini-opera within the larger story that is Psalms of Zahyin.
CalatrilloZ’s one-step-further take on the relationship between metal and classical music is interesting. Many metal bands have acknowledged and even played up the fact that great influence is taken from classical, Victorian and gothic-era music. CalatrilloZ has decided to build up that image even more. Between the costumes, makeup, theatrics and, most importantly, the musical composition, CalatrilloZ has created a multimedia experience for metal fans that will hopefully be appreciated. Psalms of Zahyin will be released in its entirety on June 22. Fans can find I Am Alive and A Glimpse at a Fool’s Destiny on CalatrilloZ’s Soundcloud page, and the intro videos for each band member plus more can be seen on their website or on YouTube.
Review by Layla Klamt
Soundcloud.com: CalatrilloZ “Psalms of Zahyin”
Youtube: CalatrilloZ Channel
Images courtesy of CalatrilloZ press package