Album Review: Midnight Zen by Strider

Hailing from Ankara, Turkey, comes Strider, a band with 5 exceptional musicians within its ranks, Atılım Karaca on vocals, guitarists Selçuk Çelebi and Yiğit Çiçek, Sertuğ Kostik on bass guitar and drummer Mertcan Kabaş. The band …

“Was sprouted from the relentless desolation of Moorland Ankara in 2015, Strider is a 5-piece heavy rock endeavor. With an emphasis on collective struggle, it is a manic depressive and highly expressive musical journey in Moorland whether we are not on the Moorland anymore or we are at the far end of it.”

That heavy rock tag doesn’t cover all that Strider does, though, as they also pull in stoner rock/metal, heavy psych, and a bit of doom as well. Their newest effort, called Midnight Zen, was released on January 13th.

About Midnight Zen

Consisting of 5 songs, Midnight Zen runs for about 34 minutes. During that time, Strider will throw heavy riffs at you, but these are tempered with excellent use of dynamics to keep things from being dull; I’m going to begin with a track that I feel best represents that.

“Bystander Apathy” is one of the best songs on the album. The bones of this one is based on solid stoner rock riffs and a clean vocal style that I find to be very appealing. As the lead guitar section comes, the riffs seem to pull back a bit, and after that lead ends, Strider slides in a more mellow, psychedelic-tinged piece that eventually utilizes the heaviest feeling guitar part that this song has to offer.

The lyrics describe a situation where the apathy of the bystander is called out by the person caught within it.

“You can’t see my eyes, deaf-mute

Ember cracks are blazing

It drops down from fall

Bystander, why you staring?”

I’m unaware of what situation is being ignored, but I feel that it could be anyone where people stand outside of it, ignoring it while the people affected suffer.

My favorite song is also the one that is the most mellow, a gorgeous track called “Dream with the Dreamer.”

What grabs me is that Strider was able to start off in a very relaxed way and keep that feel even when the guitars pick up and become distorted; the juxtaposition between the two tones creates a wonderful dynamic that only makes sense to the song that much better. The lead guitar work is the perfect counterpart, as it flows nicely and is never over the top or out of place.

Then we have the beautiful vocal execution, which only adds to the chill vibe that the beginning sections thrive upon. Atılım provides exactly the right performances on all these songs, and if I’m not mistaken, he has a touch of Layne Staley to his vocals.

Another great example of what Strider does is the 10-minute title track, “Midnight Zen.” This one throws in all of the tricks in their magic hat, grunge flavored riffs that are catchy and interesting, stellar vocal performances (they seem to have a bit of Stone Temple Pilots Scott Weiland in them this time), excellent lead playing, a beautiful psych section, and the great sense of songwriting and arrangements that have graced the other 4 songs on the album.

Final Thoughts

While you may not have considered Turkey a place for this type of music, Strider is here to help rectify that oversight. Midnight Zen is everything that fans of underground stoner are looking for, and the band is adept at supplying them for us, especially if you take in the fact that this is their full-length debut. So, head to Bandcamp, turn the volume up, and lose yourself in Strider and Midnight Zen. Enjoy!!!

Support Strider by checking out their Bandcamp or finding them on Instagram.

This review was written by Tom Hanno, who has been writing reviews for the last 7 years but has been sharing his love of music for the majority of his life. Originally starting out at the now defunct Chimera Magazine, he is currently contributing to Doomed and Stoned, The Sleeping Shaman, The Doom Charts, Tom’s Reviews, and The Third Eye. Read more of Tom’s reviews by checking out his Linktree.

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