Introducing: Zarraza

We love nothing more than finding new bands from new countries, so when the savage sound of Kazakh death metal meets thrash band Zarraza popped into our inbox we were keen to find out more.

The band from Almaty in Kazakhstan have honed a fast and furious sound that frontman Nick Khalabuzar summarises as: “We believe metal is the best form of dealing with our inner demons and waking up yours.”

Nick and drummer Ruslan Konon are founding members of the band, who were so keen to play music that they performed their first gig without a bassist. Luckily there was one in the crowd who joined the fold but after a few lineup changes the “four-piece machine of disturbing noises” is completed by Adil Aliakpar on bass and Dan Eternal guitar.

Nick describes their sound as: “Emotions and passion twisted into furious guitar roaring and up-tempo beats. You can find a few melodies – just to tint the brutal character of our songs. I can say we start with extreme thrash metal and bring a lot of other influences from different extreme genres. No clean vocals.

“On Rotten Remains we used ethnic Kazakh instruments just to add some special vibes to the instrumental track The Grudge and thrash grinder Wrong Song.”

The band sent us Bulldozer, from their most recent album release Rotten Remains. On it, Nick says “I hope it sounds the same way as a real bulldozer but with a drunk driver! Low distorted sounds with engine squeals and roaring.”

The track opens up with the sound of the whispers of an occult spell, then a chunky bass sound and drums are followed by booming guitars and a huge scream from Nick as the drums intensify under high-pitched stabs of guitar. Nick’s huge vocals take over alongside high pitched guitar flurries then big chugging guitars.

It drops into drawn-out guitar chords then bursts of palm-muted notes over huge pounding bass drum in a really cool instrumental section. That drops into a big doomy section of heavy guitars, drums and screamed vocals, then big diving guitar sounds over whispers that feed into stabbing guitars under more screams to close the track out.

And on what inspired the track, Nick adds: “Lyrically, it is inspired by an idea that any spell or a conjuring works only if the cursed person believes in it. From a different angle, any religion needs worshippers to blindly believe in it’s dogmas – otherwise it is just empty words. That’s why faith and fear comes together. Fear is an evidence you are a real believer.”

Check out Bulldozer in the video below:

And if you like your metal at breakneck speed and utterly furious, then the brilliantly named If I Was Satan, also from Rotten Remains, will be just the ticket. Check it out below:

As Nick mentioned above, their instrumental track The Grudge features traditional Kazakh instruments, which sound a little bit like a trippy violin, alongside big booming guitar riffs. Check it out below:

The band is influenced by the likes of Dave Mustaine from Megadeth, Vogg from Decapitated and the originality of Gojira’s Duplantier brothers and the persistence of Slayer. As Nick explains: “They are greatest teachers not only in guitar but in dedication to your beliefs.”

While other influences include what Nick describes as: “Emotional inbalances, a demand to express ourselves through sounds and noise. Secret waves from Saturn and Sirius are important influences too.”

And the topics that they write music about are really interesting. As Nick explains: “I’m tired of increasing so-called spirituality and the rising of religion. It causes a lot of social issues but authorities prefer not to admit it – openly at least. In Kazakhstan, we have about 3,600 mosques – it’s more than in any Central Asia country. At the same time the country lacks in schools and hospitals. What do we need more, really? It’s a social regress – to build a better future we need science, not mosques.

“So we sing about religion and self awareness in a world full of lies and manipulation. There are a couple of ‘F you!’ songs also. And a few songs about scientists who are real martyrs of humanity – not so-called ‘saints.'”

Of course, this is the first band we’ve met from Kazakhstan so we were intrigued to find out more about the country’s music scene. Nick explained: “The first wave of metal bands hit more than 30 years ago. Since then the metal scene has come through ups and downs. I believe now is the best time – we have technology, the Internet and great possibilities to learn from our favourites and to spread our noise around the globe.

“We have a few really good releases from the Kazakhstan metal scene: Doubleface’s Falls & Declines, which fans of death metal should check out!, and black metal band Seven Sins. I believe we have got more to come.”

And on support from Kazakh people, he adds: “Our supporters are great – I can say they are the best audience here in Kazakhstan! It’s great to see them jumping, screaming and moshing – we captured their craziness on our recent video Chaos (see below).

“Rock and especially metal music is far from being mainstream in Kazakhstan but a lack of popularity of the genre is compensated by the enthusiasm of our brothers and sisters-in-arms. It’s also great to see new bands coming – new music, new ideas, new gigs.”

Zarraza’s music is packed full of furious riffing, powerful vocals and wild energy that, for us at least, is perfect for releasing a bit of the anger with the current times we find ourselves in.

We interviewed the band at the end of last month, which marked a special anniversary for them. As Nick explains: “The end of April for us is the time to celebrate a special anniversary – one year ago on April 26 we played with our idols SEPULTURA at Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan). It was not only an amazing gig for us – it was a trip from Almaty to Bishkek with dedicated SEPULTURA fans on two buses. Crazy memories! We put a short movie on YouTube about these days. Mounted from cell phones videos and with no soundboard recording it’s total DIY – local scene as it is. Enjoy it with us – if you can!”

You can follow Zarraza on Facebook and Instagram, and check out their music on Spotify, Bandcamp, Apple Music and YouTube.

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