One Hundred Thousand – Zodiac
Release Date: 09/04/2021
Running Time: 72:00
Review by Beth Jones
By nature, Progressive Rock/Metal is an expansive and exploratory genre. Possibly why I love it so much. So, as always, I jump at the chance of exploring further when a new name lands in my review pile.
One Hundred Thousand are a progressive outfit from New Jersey, USA. They have been active since 2017, and recently released their sophomore album, “Zodiac”. As exploratory goes, this one is a smorgasbord. It’s a concept album, with every song exploring traits of a particular sign of the zodiac. Lyrically, it follows a protagonist over the course of a year, from a place of ‘devastating personal loss, through the illusion of hope, to an enigmatic finale’. The way the band released this album is also intriguing. They started with ‘Aries’, the first track, back in March 2020, as the pandemic hit, and continued releasing one track a month, to correlate with the star signs, finishing with ‘Pisces’, which was released in February this year.
The first thing that hits you about this album is precision. Its intricate and heavy melodies, riffs, and rhythms are oozing with detail. There isn’t a single note or beat that isn’t there for a reason. This makes it expansive and immersive, but also delicate. Sweeping areas of ambience are demolished by gritty guitars, thumping percussion, and down tuned rumbling bass, only to rise again with sumptuous solos and soaring clean vocals, which give way to raw vocals, Modern Metal style. And if you listen carefully, there are some extra details added low down in the mix, which fill out this already massive sound even more.
‘Gemini’ is one of a few stand-out track for me. It starts with acapella voices in harmony, with a whole bag of reverb on, which makes it dark and mysterious. But then it moves into guitars, vocals, and a fiendishly complex rhythm. It’s got the tone of 90’s Indie Rock, but a hefty injection of proginess, too. But, and yes here comes my gripe, FOR THE LOVE OF MUSIC, PLEASE STOP FADING TRACKS OUT! It has always been, and will always be my biggest, nails down a blackboard bugbear. I appreciate this is only my opinion, and there are probably many others who wouldn’t agree, but I want every song to come to a close, not disappear into the distance ad infinitum.
When it comes to hard and heavy tracks, ‘Scorpio’ wins the prize. It has the essence of a modern metal track in terms of tone, and harsher vocals, but it still remains firmly in prog territory. It has a frenetic middle section, and even double kick drum going on, which definitely move it into a heavier territory than the rest of the album up to that point.
Now, I’m not huge on star signs, but I do know that mine is Sagittarius, so I was keen to listen to that track. It’s a very interesting track – quite 70’s vocal harmonies, and very experimental. But, again, every detail is superbly executed. The modern metal sounds come into this song too, adding extra flavour as the album begins to move towards its climactic end. That’s followed by ‘Capricorn’, which hands down wins for expansiveness. There’s so much in this track. It’s like a five-course meal all in one song, exploring a variety of different musical sounds and styles. Love it.
‘Pisces’, the final track, although slow in tempo, is pretty brutal, and see the sound work through various different experimental elements again. It’s an interesting way to close out an album, although I don’t find it as strong as some of the other tracks. That said, apart from my one little gripe about the fades, this is a wonderfully intriguing body of work, and if you like anything progressive and huge, then you’ll enjoy this.
Alex Goldenthal – Guitar
Andrew Magnotta – Bass
Rich Matos – Vocals
Gregg Sgar – Guitar
Kurt Wübbenhorst – Drummer
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