Chicago has a tradition of far-reaching heavy bands, and among the current crop, psychedelic metal outfit Rezn (often styled REZN) have become one to watch. They’ve been pulling away from the usual trappings of stoner metal, and on 2020’s Chaotic Divine they incorporated a mix of influences that don’t often appear in metal of any kind. In some bands, experiments like those go downhill quickly, but Rezn have proved they can make elements as disparate as doom metal and smooth jazz work together like peanut butter and jelly (or some other flavor combo you find enjoyable).
On the brand-new Solace, the four-piece further refine their craft, expertly shifting among moods and colors. It’s one of my favorite new albums to come out of Chicago so far this year, and Rezn waste no time drawing the listener into their compelling vision. They open with “Allured by Feverish Visions,” a windswept, hallucinogenic instrumental voyage that conjures images of a damned Edgar Allan Poe-like character condemned to comb through sandy beaches for a lost love while slowly descending into madness. That oceanic feeling continues through “Possession,” with grooves that create the atmosphere of a gentle low tide—that is, until a dense, surging tidal wave crashes down at the song’s end. The album only gets heavier from there, and when the chunky guitar progressions kick in on “Stasis” it feels genuinely cathartic to get lost in their cosmic abyss. One trademark of the Rezn sound is the soulful saxophone of multi-instrumentalist Spencer Ouelette, and his solo on “Faded and Fleeting” could in another context lure your elderly aunt and uncle out to romance on the dance floor. On Solace, though, it makes for a sweet interlude before album closer “Webbed Roots.” Its ambitious twists and turns (and its elegiac spoken word from French Canadian electronic producer Marie Davidson) help fuel the band’s final liftoff into outer space.
REZN’s Solace is available through Bandcamp.