Patrick Dunn (drums), Rob McWilliams (vocals, guitar), Phil Cangelosi (bass), Spencer Ouellette (synth/saxophone)

photo credit Alexa Viscius


REZN ‘Burden’ 

Since their inception, Chicago’s REZN have mined the stark monochromatic depths of underground metal and fused them with the kaleidoscopic delights of psychedelia, prog rock, and shoegaze. With their latest album Burden, the quartet plumb the deepest, bleakest trenches of their sound while retaining a lifeline into the cosmos. Staking a claim at the crossroads of the hazy dimensions of modern psych acts like Black Angels, the cavernous gloom and reverb-drenched guitar of bands like Spectral Voice, and the lurching low-end meditations of artists like OM, REZN have created Burden—an album of immense amp-worshipping weight and intoxicating instrumentation. 

Burden was recorded simultaneously with their previous album Solace back in July 2021 at Earth Analog Studios in Tolono, IL by Matt Russell. Rather than release a double album, REZN divided the material into two separate records, each with its own distinct emotional timbre. Whereas Solace was meant to uplift and create a sense of narcotic dreaminess, Burden skews towards the themes of delirium, claustrophobia, and misery. Musically, Burden favors riffs over atmosphere, percussion over ether, dissonance over beauty, but there is still an undeniable cohesion between it and its predecessor. Album opener “Indigo” finds bassist Phil Cangelosi and drummer Patrick Dunn churning out an authoritative Godflesh-like battery while vocalist/guitarist Rob McWilliams and synth player/saxophonist Spencer Ouellette drape the martial stomp in ominous interwoven melodies. The marriage of brute force and sublime textures has always been a key tactic in REZN’s approach—a duality that may explain their touring history with fellow synesthesia-inducing metalurgists Elder and Russian Circles—but the spectrum of the band’s mercurial temperaments has never felt as clearly defined and fully explored as it does on Burden

That study of tonal contrasts is on full display on tracks like “Bleak Patterns” where an opening guitar passage of nimble grace and beauty serves as a Trojan horse for the invading barrage of knuckle-dragging low-tuned barbarism. “Collapse” employs similar acts of deception, where smoky Eastern guitar melodies and swirling synth ambience provide brief moments of respite before a distorted wall of sound comes crashing down on the listener. While Solace embraced similar contrasts, it leaned towards the loftier peaks in the band’s sound, as evidenced in the album’s artwork of snow topped mountains provided by Adam Burke / Nightjar Illustration. Burden’s artwork is a literal continuation of Solace’s landscape painting, showing the fiery depths at the foot of the mountain range. Even Burden’s most reserved moments, such as the Pink Floydian penultimate track “Soft Prey,” feel like the calm before the storm, a gathering of momentum before the punishing closer and lead single “Chasm,” a megalithic weedian crusher further bolstered by a scorching guitar solo courtesy of Russian Circle’s Mike Sullivan. 

As knowledgeable gear heads, experienced sound engineers, and seasoned DIY veterans, REZN were able to create an early body of work devoid of any sonic compromises in their speaker-rattling dirges and heady lysergic forays. Their four self-released albums—Let It Burn (2017), Calm Black Water (2018), Chaotic Divine (2020), and Solace (2023)—have all gone through multiple vinyl pressings and the international underground heavy psych world has routinely selected the band for distinguished festival slots across North America and Europe. From their inception, REZN have been a fiercely independent band with a fully realized aesthetic and a fervent cult following. Now ready to take things even further, REZN have teamed up with Sargent House to release Burden unto the world.