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Zeni Geva 

10,000 Light Years (Neurot)

Coming out of the Japanese noise scene of the mid-'80s, Zeni Geva set itself apart from the pack with its dark, heavy riffs and off-kilter time signatures. As its status as an epic Japanese power trio grew, it gained the attention of Shellac's Steve Albini (Bush, Nirvana, Page & Plant), who would go on to produce several Geva albums. But considering that the group hasn't released anything new in six years, this album is a particular disappointment. Two of the songs on it have been recorded previously -- "Interzona 2" is an extended version of a track on Freedom Bondage, and "Auto Fuck" was originally released on a Skin Graft 7-inch in the mid-'90s -- and, on the whole, it comes off as a rush job.

The riffs are typically heavy and noise-laden, but they lack the cohesiveness of previous albums, which featured music of epic intensity while drawing upon both the Japanese and U.S. noise of the late '80s and early '90s. The songs here pay little attention to melodic development. Perhaps the root of the problem lies in the fact that the band, which includes singer-guitarist K.K. Null and guitarist Mitsuru Tabata, added new drummer Masataka Fujikake for this album. The band's original drummer, Eito, left the group in 1995, and the band toured shortly with ex-Dazzling Killmen drummer Blake Fleming before settling on Fujikake. While both Eito and Fleming handled Zeni Geva's off-time signatures as if they were the lovechildren of John Bonham and Art Blakey, Fujikake is more of a straight-ahead rock drummer. And as simple a variable as that might be, the difference is at least partly responsible for the sameness at the heart of 10,000 Light Years.

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