Detroit scene vet Zach Pliska, has played drums in a number of local bands, which has given him valuable experience writing, recording and touring. Pliska founded his latest project VAZUM back in 2017, and over the course of six self-released albums that have found the band’s sound bouncing around and spanning across several different genres including post-punk and doom.
During most of the band’s history, the band has gone through a series of lineup changes but Pliska found a deep connection with Emily Sturm (vocals, bass), who joined the band in 2019. With a background in the visual arts, Sturm has helped give the band a new, uncompromising aesthetic edge, which has resulted in what Pliska and Strum have described as deathgaze, which combines the raw energy of deathrock with the sonic depth of shoegaze.
The duo’s seventh album V+ is slated for release this summer. The album’s latest single “Haunted House” is centered around cavernous drumming, wailing guitars played through reverb, delay and effect pedals, Sturm’s plaintive vocals and a rousingly anthemic hook; the end result is a song that — to my ears — sounds like a synthesis of Sioxuise and the Banshees, Sisters of Mercy and The Verve. Interestingly, the song is based on a real, life-changing experience that the band’s Emily Sturm had one winter night: She was awakened by a shrill, inhuman sound emanating from the distance. Startled, she went outside to investigate the sound, but it was silent. The following afternoon, Sturm’s neighbor’s porch was taped off as a crime scene: the woman and infant, who had lived next door were brutally murdered. Understandably, Sturm has been haunted by the event ever since, wondering if she could have done something to prevent the murderers. As the band notes, in Irish folklore, a banshee warns of dangers by wailing or shrieking. So naturally, Strum has wondered if those sounds were that of a banshee. But overall, the song is about domestic violence and the awful aftermath left in the wake.
The recently released video for “Haunted House” employs Edgar Allan Poe horror tropes: the beautiful yet very dead bride, who dances seductively and haunts an old-fashioned candlelit mansion.