I know with Zuriaake there are few certainties. Throughout my explorations of East Asian heavy metal, that strange and wonderful things can be found at a moments notice. Finding Pest Productions was a treasure trove of mostly Chinese depressive and atmospheric black metal. Pest Productions got some undue notice last year as being the label which hosted Ghost Bath’s 2014 record Funeral. The fallout regarding Ghost Bath’s regional identiy sort of took away the spotlight to some other great bands that were from China and making black metal. Zuriaake was one of them and at the time, this 3 piece had not made a full length since 2007. Things are different now.
With Zuriaake there comes a sense of dramatic pause since their releases are so sparse and information is sort of sparse. Actually getting a hold of music sometimes comes with frustration as the band’s last EP was only available as a special prize on a label sale. 孤雁 (Gu Yan) was a 2015 EP which oddly appears at the first half of the new record. In fact, the actual amount of new material is only a little over 30 minutes. With all of that said, it is hard to get upset about Gu Yan as Zuriaake is certainly capable of sitting down and weaving wondrous tales of sadness and beauty. 梦邀 ( 广寒 / 仙游 / 南柯 ) is the longest track on the record and at 20 minutes, its musings with traditional Asian instrumentation and soft piano tappings never grow tale. There is a lot of lead up to Gu Yan and with Zuriaake as an act but in the end it becomes worth the wait.
Something which Gu Yan does or at least has solidified in a full length is a full transition from the lo fi depressive atmosphere of 2007’s Afterimage of Autumn. This is oddly similar to Ghost Bath’s transition from Funeral to Moonlover. Regardless, the switch in production for Zuriaake is noticeable but never becomes too overburdening even with the sound effects of horses whinnying in the beginning of “邊關.” Gu Yan is certainly a treat for anyone who enjoys black metal with a healthy dose of atmosphere and dramatic narrative. The digital version of this record priced at 6 dollars is also resaonble and something many labels fail to do for their customers. Peste Productions remains one of favorite places to vist to catch up on music being made in places one does not usually think of when they think heavy m etal.