Tuesday 12 March 2024

O Zorn! - Vermillion Haze (Album Review)

Release Date: March 15th 2024. Record Label: Hard Drugs / Seeing Red Records. Formats: DD/Vinyl

Vermillion Haze - Tracklisting

 1. Features

 2. Slow Mood

 3. Never Saw It Coming

 4. I See Through You

 5. New Suffer

 6. I Got Mine

 7. Cloud None

 8. Ricochet


Bill Kielty - Vocals

Justin Suitor - Guitar

Justin Morales - Bass

Derek Eglit - Drums


Vermillion Haze sees the return from Atmospheric Sludge/Doom/Grunge Riffsters O Zorn! after a four year absence since they released their 2020 debut album Your Killer. An album I’m ashamed to admit that I totally missed when it was originally released. As that was an engrossing and highly accomplished debut with the band playing a multitude of different styles that bridged the gap between Post-Metal, Sludge, Doom and Grunge. This time round O Zorn! come back stronger than ever with a record that has a mighty sludgy and groove obsessed vision throughout.

Channelling bands such as Alice In Chains, Soundgarden, Neurosis, BEASTWARS and Mastodon whilst playing their own great style of Doomed Out Grunge that sees the band encompass a fearless attitude within their haunting lyrics and the intense vocals from Bill Kielty. With a sound that blasts between Progressive Sludge Metal and intense Grunge attitude which shine brightly throughout the excellent opening tracks of Features and Slow Mind.

The lyrics have an Alice In Chains flavour to them but O Zorn! build sublime Sludge/Doom foundations for the heavy waves of Psychedelic and Atmospheric grooves to appear. There’s a harsh emotional quality appearing within the lyrics that can be quite hard-hitting and straight to the point.

With heavy Sludge/Post-Metallic guitars from Justin Suitor employing a more cosmic and muscular sound for the epic rhythm section of Justin Morales on Bass and Derek Elgit on Drums to build masses of heavy volume for O Zorn! to truly flourish within their own creative vision. The instrumental work is always changing for the better with each song taking a slightly different departure from what came before it.

There’s an element of familiarity in parts of the album which harks back to the days of 1990's and 2000's Doom/Sludge Metal with moments of classic leaning Grunge. There’s many different sides to O Zorn!’s music that you don’t initially expect that explodes under a style of aggressive melodies and pitch perfect Psychedelic Doom textures on tracks such as Never Saw It Coming, I See Through You, I Got Mine and Ricochet. 

Vermillion Haze was overseen by producer Ryan Boesch known for his work with powerhouse bands and artists such as  Whores, Andrew WK, Tomahawk and The Eels and perhaps the main reason why the album has such a contemporary and alternative sound at times but still having a fresh HEAVY ROCK momentum that grabs you by throat and never lets go.

As I stated earlier in the review, this is quite a bleak, harsh and hard-hitting album to fully comprehend at times but one that allows Vermillion Haze to be one of the most refreshing and honest albums I’ve heard in some time.

O Zorn! have released an album that will see them appear on quite a few Album Of The Year contender lists before the year is out. This has already claimed a Top 10 slot in my very own favourite albums of the year list. A simply unmissable release that every fan of the Doom/Sludge/Stoner Metal underground scene needs to check out now.

Words by Steve Howe

Thanks to Earsplit PR for the promo.

Vermillion Haze will be available to buy on DD/Vinyl via Hard Drugs and Seeing Red Records EU / Seeing Red Records USA from Friday 15th March 2024.


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