GZR – Ohmwork


Noise Records
Release Date: May 10, 2005

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Mention Geezer Butler to a grizzled old Metalhead and invariably you’ll see their eyes glaze over as they remember ‘The Old Days’ – Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, etc. Tell the same Metalhead they’re listening to Geezer Butler’s Band’s new album Ohmwork, and watch as looks of confusion, bewilderment, bafflement, and incomprehension cross their face.

Now, old Metalheads will probably take this one of two ways: 1. He/She will stomp off muttering well-worn phrases such as Sell-out, Corporate Whore, etc., and voice general complaints about the state of Metal music today, or: 2. He/She will do as Geezer has done – Observe, Adapt, Adjust, and MOVE ON! What everyone should take into account is that the whole point of band members going off and doing a solo project is: they want to make their own music in their own style. If Geezer had made a solo album in the style of Black Sabbath, then it might as well have been recorded by Black Sabbath, making the whole concept of Geezer’s solo project unnecessary. So, no one should complain that Ohmwork sounds nothing like Black Sabbath, because it’s not supposed to!

Along with Geezer on bass guitar, Clark Brown handles the vocals, Pedro Howse is on guitar, and Chad Smith on drums. Also making a guest appearance on “I Believe” is Geezer’s son Biff belting out backing vocals.

The musical style of Ohmwork is difficult to describe. There is some ‘Old School’ Metal in there, with some Thrash, Power, and a dose of ‘New Wave Of American Heavy Metal’ in the mix … and all of these different sounds come at you all at once. With the whole thing recorded in 10 days, GZR have captured a rough-edged, raw sound that you can only achieve by recording in this manner. It’s almost like playing live with all the pressures that go with it; you gotta get it right first time; you didn’t hit the note you wanted, tough, you can’t change it. Recording this way makes sure what comes out as the finished product is exactly what you had in your head when you went into the studio, because you have no time to go “Hey, what about if we try putting this in there.”

There is no definitive musical order to Ohmwork, with each track having its own individual style. One of the things that seems constant throughout the album is that GZR are pissed about something and are venting their wrath through the music. With the exception of “I Believe” and “Alone,” Ohmwork is chock full of some angry songs that will kick-off some ferocious Mosh-Pits should GZR take them on tour. Unfortunately, the promo demo didn’t come with the lyrics, so figuring out exactly what they’re pissed about was difficult to work out. However, the promo blurb that did come with the CD mentions the ideas behind most tracks focus on the bad things in life, like politicians and religious zealots hijacking your beliefs for their own political ends, and the people of the world being responsible for allowing it to happen in the first place! As Geezer himself says about the track “Dogs Of Whore”: “I started off writing about warmongers 35 years ago and here I am today, still having to do it.” A reference to “War Pigs,” which he penned many years ago.

The other constants throughout the album are the timing changes within each track, Geezer’s overdriven bass guitar, and Chad’s manic drumming, pounding out the stop/start rhythms, and Pedro’s distorted guitar with its blistering riff speed (it sounds like the guitar is drop-tuned, which some guitar aficionados call cheating, but if that’s what it takes to punch out riffs like these, does it really matter how the guitar is tuned?). “Aural Sects” and “Don’t You Know,” in particular, are tracks where all things come together in grand fashion. You also get the sense that nothing is in the background — that all the instruments and vocals are giving you their all in one big face-ripping aural assault.

At this point, hopefully, you should become conscious that GZR is more than just Geezer Butler’s solo project; there is no solo anything here. GZR is not four individuals playing the same music, but a band of like-minded, exceptional musicians melded into a single entity.

Geezer Butler may have been in the music business for over 35 years, yet he has not let his music writing style get into a rut and Ohmwork is testament to this. Ohmwork most definitely is not the work of some old Rocker trying to hang on to the past; it is music of today, perhaps even of tomorrow.


  • Ross Swinton

    Ross was a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio. His first recollection of listening to Rock music was at a party in the early '70s, and Thin Lizzy, Electric Light Orchestra, The Who, and Nazareth made him pick up his first Air Guitar and Rock-On! He spent 23 years, from the age of 16, in the Army and wandered around the globe getting paid for travelling to far, sometimes near, exotic, though sometimes dangerous, lands and had a blast whilst doing it. Since leaving the Army in ’98, he has settled near his hometown, just a few miles from Edinburgh, Scotland. Here he helps local bands by recording demos and albums; building them websites; helping put on gigs for them, and generally helping them build up a fan base.

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