Jan-Simon : Gozu has been around for a number of years. Starting in a time that every band that was vaguely stoner was signed by Small Stone Records, they have grown with each release and have now landed themselves a contract at one of the major metal labels. ‘Equilibrium’ is the band’s first effort for Metal Blade, and although much has stayed the same – like the tendency to have at least one song named after a half forgotten Hollywood star (this time it is Stacy Keach, who was preceded as song titles by Jan-Michael Vincent and Bronson Pinchot), it is without any doubt Gozu most accessible album. Their most commercial as well, one might say. The question is only what to call Gozu’s music. Is it grunge, stoner or good old heavy metal? In a time where grunge and stoner have become genres of the past themselves, the answer does not matter much. Gozu is cherry-picking from music history and the result is a platter overflowing with badass rock. Isn't that all that matters?
If Gozu must be labelled the link with Kyuss and Queens of the Stone Age is easily made. In the past the band also sounded at least heavily inspired by Josh Homme and company. Heavy guitars that are melodic at the same time, nice chorus lines – even the voice of singer-guitar player Marc Gaffney sounds a bit like that of Homme. But who wants to name Soundgarden and Pearl Jam style grunge or Clutch’s groove metal as a major influence is right as well. It is hardly original, but pretty good nevertheless.
Song after song Gaffney and his band mates build towards an inevitable climax. ‘Ballad of ODB’ is not quite what one would expect for that matter. As the title suggests it is a ballad, one of eleven minutes even, only picking up pace after an atmospheric, spacey start of more than three minutes. ‘Ballad of ODB’ might be an outstanding example of Gozu’s wilfulness. Gozu shows to be a band doing whatever it likes and even gets away with a monstrosity like this. Should this have been the opening track of the album, I do not know if I had reached the end of the album. Now they are forgiven, after a string of seven strong or even very strong up tempo rock songs that tie up the best of all guitar music of the last decades into almost 40 minutes.