"Some bands build worlds. REZN hope you explore their universe. “We do leave quite a bit up for interpretation,” bassist Phil Cangelosi, accompanied by the three other members of the Chicago quartet, says over Zoom. “We don’t have anything that’s super on the nose. Our goal is to bring you to a place and not necessarily tell you what to do once you’re there.” Guitarist and vocalist Rob McWilliams chimes in: “It’s definitely just setting a scene for someone.”

Burden, REZN’s forthcoming fifth full-length and a companion to 2023’s Solace, sets a scene like it’s an open-world video game. The DIY outfit’s first release on the venerable Sargent House is massive and immersive. “Indigo,” the opening track that further expands the already intrepid band’s timbral palette, drops you into a dark, dangerous netherworld. Drummer Patrick Dunn pounds his kit with the force of a slipping fault line. Modular synth player and saxophonist Spencer Ouellette produces dizzying layers that hang like noxious gasses. Cangelosi’s churning bass juts upwards like jagged stalagmites. And McWilliams’ guitar and vocals dizzily swirl like the uncontainable dread of intense claustrophobia. Within a few seconds, you know exactly where you’re at, and the walls are closing in.

However, how you choose to navigate Burden’s subterranean labyrinth is up to you. That’s REZN’s great gift. Although the band constructs and sequences songs with cinematic grace, effortlessly herding listeners along their journey, the contours of that journey are left up to the experiencer. In a sense, REZN act almost like a mood ring, matching whatever you’re feeling. That mirror-to-the-self approach permits you to discover whatever you need to hear at the heart of Burden, one of those rare musical adventures that meets you where you’re at instead of the other way around. In that way, REZN are part of the burgeoning field of “big feelings metal” pioneered by Convulsing and the like, but it also makes a case for empath metal. You feel like Burden feels you. It can be cathartic, leading you out of the dark, labyrinthine confines of your own psyche. Burden can and probably will lift burdens."

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