Thematic development: Three songs by The Chasm, Deathevokation, and Zealotry


Zealotry‘s latest album The Last Witness closes with ‘Silence‘, a song that instantly draws comparisons with Deathevokation‘s ‘As My Soul Gazes Skywards‘ from their lone full-length The Chalice Of Ages, and even further back in time, with ‘Confessions And A Strange Anxiety‘ from The Chasm‘s debut. All three demonstrate a thematic development of the highest order; Zealotry are more in concert with Deathevokation in terms of arrangement while The Chasm riff on the same premise but along a different tangent.

Silence‘ is perhaps the most linear of all songs on The Last Witness (an album that I’d like to write about at length in a new post), which brings it a little closer to the fields that Deathevokation plough. Both songs split their lengths into composite suites of sorts – Zealotry, three, Deathevokation, two (three, too, if you consider the outro) – each delineated by a quasi-classical overture. Within these boundaries, both songs play out their distinct and self-contained roles conforming to but also fleshing out the melodic sequence initiated by the overtures.

It is easy to be sidetracked when comparing the two songs; Zealotry‘s nature is far more intricate, urgent, and technically ambitious whereas Deathevokation establish a musically and emotionally unambiguous narrative. Zealotry have a greater palette from which they consciously borrow and fill out the subregions they have carved out under the umbrella overtures; Deathevokation, on the other hand, let uncomplicated melodic instinct guide them to their song’s predictable but no less emotionally vital end.

The underlying intent behind these surface attributes, however, is the same. Both songs are brothers in spirit and understanding, even while remaining descendants of diverging musical lineages.

What The Chasm share with the above is the same emphasis on thematic development in the face of a unifying musical ideal, where they differ is in the construction of the skeleton of their song. Where Zealotry and Deathevokation divide and vivify, though not without significant overlap, The Chasm take “an original pearl of a melody through different iterations and moods of the same idea. Times are when the song seems to have escaped the initial premise altogether, but however tenuous the association, there’s always a way back.” The Chasm set up shop at the very outset and then let their vision diffuse through and infect the remainder of their song.

These are two different yet related takes on composing, and they both showcase the importance of thematic development to metal. Evolution, if any, has to be at the level of composition and thought, a concept that appears lost to many new bands.



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