Since their 2007 debut album, Dog Magic, Atlanta's Zoroaster have been building momentum in the world of underground metal. The band's 2009 sophomore release, Voice of Saturn, saw Zoroaster push the boundaries of traditional doom metal, while their forthcoming third album, Matador, pretty much ignores genre classifications altogether.
In all likelihood, Matador, slated for a July 13 release, is the album that will push Zoroaster into the upper echelon of modern indie metal, alongside fellow Atlantans Mastodon and their E1 music labelmates High on Fire. The new album incorporates psychedelic guitar solos, keyboards and enough up-tempo riffing to make the doom metal tag a misnomer.
The band hit the road last week, headlining the "Summer Southern Burn" tour alongside Black Tusk and Dark Castle. The tour stops at the Rogue in Scottsdale this Tuesday night. Listen to the new Zoroaster song "Black Hole" and check out a Q&A with guitarist/vocalist Will Fiore after the break.
Q&A with Zoroaster's Will Fiore
Up on the Sun: The new album sounds a lot more up-tempo than Voice of Saturn and especially your first album, Dog Magic. Was there a conscious decision by the band to speed things up a bit, or was it more of a natural evolution?
Fiore: Not at all. A few of these songs were actually written when the band first got together - we just kinda forgot about them for a couple of years. I would like to say we have a big master plan, but we just get together when we're off the road and just jam and let things come naturally and for the most part, a lot of it is still kinda up in the air when we get in the studio.
"Trident" could almost pass for a Queens of the Stone Age song, and I swear I even heard a couple vocal melodies on Matador. Are you worried about pissing off the doom metal purists?
That was one of the first songs we wrote back in 2003, so it just seems natural to us. We've never been the kind of band to worry about others' expectations anyway. If people dig it, awesome. If not, that's fine too.
It seems like a good time to be a metal band, with acts such as Mastodon, High on Fire, Isis, Baroness and, of course, Zoroaster getting positive press on snobby indie music sites like Pitchfork and landing high-profile festival gigs at Bonnaroo and Coachella. Do you think metal is finally starting to earn the respect of mainstream fans and critics?
I suppose it may be in another one of its up cycles again, which may not even be a good thing. That's usually when people who don't really believe in this type of music start playing it just because it's in fashion or whatever. But fuck it, what can you do? As long as good bands are getting the respect they deserve, it's cool.
Looks like you'll be on the road for about a month on this headlining tour. Do you have a preference between headlining smaller venues or playing larger venues as an opener?
It's really cool to have the opportunity to do both. Of course, playing smaller shows allows you a longer set and to be able to do everything on your own terms. With the bigger shows, there is the opportunity to get new people into your music
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What are the band's plans after this tour wraps up and the album comes out?
There's a plan to do another U.S. run in September and head back to Europe in October. We also have a few songs bouncing around in our heads that we plan on working on, but for the most, part we just hope to be out on the road!
Zoroaster is scheduled to perform on Tuesday, June 22, at the Rogue in Scottsdale.