Winsconsin-born Nika Roza Danilova - aka Zola Jesus - is well-versed in the idea of uncompromising sonics; ever since 2010’s breakthrough LP ‘Stridulum II’, the singer has been weaving dark, gothic spells over the kind of industrial noise more usually found on a Skinny Puppy record than accompanied by a singer of opera-level skill.
‘Okovi’, however, is her densest listen yet. Borne from a period of death and personal disruption for the singer, it’s not the kind of record you go into lightly. Existential and emotional to its core, the Arizona singer’s sixth LP is a weighty thing that offers little respite, either lyrically or in its thick, punishing sonics.
‘Siphon’ describes the “cold dark nights inside your head” - written about a friend’s attempted suicide - to a throbbing industrial beat, while ‘Witness’ is a sombre thing that soars on the singer’s undeniably stunning vocal. There are still hooks, such as ‘Soak”s Massive Attack-esque undulating rhythms or the mechanical pulse of ‘Remains’, but they’re shrouded in the kind of claustrophobic density that barely relents for the entire release.
Heavy with feeling throughout, it makes for a record that’s often a tough listen. But for cathartically allowing herself to tackle life’s most difficult subjects, you’ve got to applaud her.