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Zoltan - Tombs of the Blind Dead CD (album) cover




Progressive Electronic

4.00 | 1 ratings

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Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars Zoltan are a UK trio who cross Goblin-like eerie synth sounds with progressive-electronic atmospheres. They put out a phenomenal debut back in 2012 with `First Stage Zoltan' (an album in serious need of more attention), and they've followed it up over the last couple of years with the full-length `Sixty Minute Zoom' in 2014 and a series of EP's of interpretations of obscure horror movie soundtracks. First up was 2013's `Psychomania' from 1972 ("The greatest and grooviest British zombie biker movie ever made" boasts the DVD cover, surely a crowded sub-genre!) and offered an adaption of music from the `Phantasm' movies in 2016, a series that always had an incredible Mellotron-driven theme to rank alongside the best horror movie scores. But in between in 2014 came this tribute LP to a series of cult horror films, one that works as both a respectful companion piece to the films its based on, but also stands as a creeping and eerie progressive-electronic, experimental/ambient and darkly symphonic work in its own right.

`Tombs of the Blind Dead' was a Spanish-Portuguese film from 1972 that spawned three sequels and revolved around a group of reanimated Templar Knight corpses hunting down victims who have stumbled upon the ruins of an abandoned monastery where they were buried. The corpses are blind, because their eyes were pecked out by birds while their hanged bodies rotted on the gallows after being put to death for witchcraft and heresy in the 14th century! The first film is the iconic one, and although its probably not a particularly coherent or even well-acted example of the genre (but forget the acting, tune in for the small role from gorgeous actress María Elena Arpón, who went by the stage name of Helen Harp in this particular film, a stunning girl!), the unique concept coupled with fascinating slow motion footage of the corpses shuffling through the ruins tracking down their victims by sound alone proved deeply hypnotic, and it had a shocking and violent finale where the Knights raid a train full of innocent people. The sequels were hit and miss but all had their moments, and they enjoy a small but devoted following amongst horror movie fanatics.

Zoltan's vinyl only EP of the same name adapts four pieces, one from each film. Opener `Tombs of the Blind Dead' is a brooding storm of groaning gothic cries and cutting Mellotron slices over a constant stop/start monolithic pounding drumbeat, and `Return of the Blind Dead' is a trudging Mellotron theme over dreamy electric piano shimmers. The urgent and up-tempo `The Ghost Galleon' races along with thick chugging bouncing bass and psychedelic bleeding electronics sounding not unlike the final minutes of `Dr. Frankenstein' off Goblin's classic `Roller' album from 1976, and `Night of the Seagulls' opens as a lurking nightmarish soundscape of faraway creeping spectral organ and humming fuzzy droning distortion before lurching into an infernal plodding early King Crimson-like searing Mellotron march - intense stuff!

`Tombs of the Blind Dead' will appeal to dark prog freaks who enjoyed Morte Macabre's 1998 Mellotron-fuelled classic `Symphonic Holocaust', the classic albums of Goblin and fans of Fabio Frizzi's soundtrack works. Most of the tracks are more chilling sound collages than actual tunes, but it all works to great effect and maintains a consistently gloomy, disorientating and overwhelming atmosphere, with the stylish sleeve notes and a striking vinyl presentation overall making for a very alluring set. Resistance is futile, simply give in and be consumed by the Blind Dead!

Four stars.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 4/5 |


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