One-Armed Bandit is the sophomore album of Belgium rockers "Zornik", a record I have spent much time enjoying and wrapping my head around. Zornik would be described as a "Rock" band, but in this modern era of music I find that term to be vague and nonspecific, a generalization for the traditional guitar, bass, vocal and drums band format. Their sound on "One-Armed Bandit" is characterized by some Indie and Alternative influences as well as a strong 90s Pop Rock undercurrent. They also spruce up their pallet with some additional synthesizers and electronic elements, giving this record a diversity thats strengthened by the varied approaches in songwriting. I'm glad I gave this record a chance, usual I look to abrasive sounds and confrontation for appealing musical ideas, this record reminded me that good music can be found in the most approachable of styles too.
For me, this album was mostly defined by the mood and tone set by vocalist Koen Buyse's soft and gentle, emotionally driven presence that would very much guide and mold these songs as the accommodating instrumentals built powerful and moving settings around his narrative which swims through a current of heartbreak and sorrow that comes through in his performances. They are heartfelt and strong, giving a real sense of a troubled soul letting it out through the music, and despite this bluesy and moody feel, these songs feel bright and positive, mostly to the credit of the accommodating instrumentals. Buyse's voice has fantastic range and flight when hitting graceful high notes, he often opts to balance it with gently spoken numbers that elevate his higher range in to epic moments in the songs that make up this record.
Instrumentally, these songs are tame, gentle and humble, strolling through calm and collected instrumentals that grace through inspired melodics. There strength is in the moments between their quieter sound where the group can build up the volume and intensity with overdriven guitars and climatic progressions utilizing Buyse's impressive high range. It gives this record great flow, and theres no shortage of variety between the tracks, which can shift gears effortlessly between different intensities. Theres a great Pop sensibility about some of the vocal leads, and no shortage of energetic riffage that fuses into the tracks from time to time. Its a warm and compassionate listen that grows on me with every listen, looking forward to more from this band!
Favorite Tracks: Scared Of Yourself, Miracles, The Place, We Are Lost