Despite a title so silly it is hard to get past, “Space is the Corpse of Time” shows Minneapolis’ Zebulon Pike to be a thoughtful and serious enough art-metal band that it has shared stages with jazz legends like Ornette Coleman and relative new jacks (The Bad Plus) alike. Like some jazz, the instrumental music of Zebulon Pike is methodical, plodding, parts-heavy, and sometimes just melodic enough to endure songs that break the 10 minute mark.
But enough with the jazz references. What you’re bound to hear in Zebulon Pike are the progressive riffage of Mastodon, the controlled dissonance of Helmet and about as much originality as a lumbering instrumental band offer in 2011, the year the disc was released.
Although the five songs here (at 4:58 the title track feels an interlude) are methodically — and sometimes glacially — paced, the quartet places songwriting surprises in all of the long-form tracks. “Spectrum Threshold,” the 11 minute opening track, seems about to fade off when an absolutely random drum fill revives the track into an interesting new direction. The ill-fitting but somehow right drums snap the listener back to attention. The next cut, “Echoic Worlds,” is no less simulating; it starts off with powerhouse riffing from the guitar tandem of Morgan Berkus and Erik Fratzke before becoming utterly elastic at least two more times in its ensuing 10 minutes.
By this point, these descriptions are going to sound either exhilarating or exhausting to you. “Space is the Corpse of Time” isn’t likely to change your opinion on this type of doom-art metal. (As much as some of the other songs interest this reviewer, “Powers of the Living — Manifestations of the Dead” had him wishing his way through it on a few listens.) Still, Zebulon Pike have ideas to spare and the chops to execute them all day long.