New Band Of The Week: Zhora

Zhora band
(Image credit: Olga Kuzmenko)

Ask most bands to describe their music and the response will be something noncommittal. zhOra are a more straightforward bunch: they play Irish progressive sludge. And they can prove it.

“It’s Irish because if you put your nose to one of our albums, you’ll smell crisp sandwiches and mass,” says drummer Tom. “It’s progressive because there’s nothing subtle about a 2316 time signature, and it’s sludge because we make a slinky sonic ooze that fits you well but isn’t 100% comfortable, like a pair of silk pants that you’ve just pissed in, you dirty animal.”

Astute observers may have spotted that zhOra are not your average po-faced doom metallers. Their recently released second album, Ethos, Pathos, Logos, is as bewildering as Tom suggests. Flailing like madmen at a point between polyrhythmic sludge and blissed-out space rock, their refusal to rely on clichés ensures that every moment feels thunderously familiar and mischievously alien.

“Any idea is worth trying, and we do try all of them,” Tom points out. “It can make songwriting hard but the end result is worth it. If we’re hard to pigeonhole, fantastic! Hopefully in a few years, even I won’t have a clue what we’re doing.”

While they appear to be every inch the subversive stoners their music hints at, zhOra have a less frivolous message to impart. A rambling concept piece, the new album delves into belief, rhetoric and philosophical bullying.

“Your belief system is what holds you together as a person,” states Tom. “How you treat those around you is hinged on what your sense of right and wrong is grounded in. As much as it’s important to someone, these things change and are dictated by the age we live in. People will think, ‘OK, another anti-Christian thing, how brave!’ but it’s the opposite. I can’t stand militant atheism either. Cool, you figured out there’s no God. How very open-minded of you to laugh at everyone who isn’t woke as fuck! Don’t be a dick.”

That’s a philosophy we can get behind. An irresistible combination of the strange, the silly and the razor-sharp, zhOra may be just the guaranteed mind-bending riot of riffs we all need.

“As much we like the craic, being utter reprobates and talking nonsense, we really do love this thing,” Tom concludes. “We live for playing live and, cards on the table, we are very good at what we do.”

Ethos, Pathos, Logos is out now via Bandcamp.

zhOra - Ethos, Pathos, Logos album review

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