Zola Jesus – “Exhumed” (Singles Going Steady)

Zola Jesus is too powerful for this mortal coil, and this dramatic track proves it.

Spyros Stasis: Releasing an amazing series of records since her 2009 debut, The Spoils, Zola Jesus has attained a well-deserved stature in the experimental music scene. Taiga, her previous record, felt like a bit of a letdown, appearing more uncertain and awkward than her earlier works. On the contrary, “Exhumed”, the first single from Okovi could not be more focused, finding Zola Jesus at a moment of clear determination and sheer will. The perspective is much darker (the Ringu inspired video will convince you on that as much as the music,) the percussion taking on a tribal progression and the vocals piercing clearly through the instrumentation. It is a tour de force, a trip through pure tension, and it marks one of her finest moments. [9/10]

Adriane Pontecorvo: Howling like a tuneful banshee and twisting like it’s too late for an exorcism, Zola Jesus is very much “Exhumed” in her new video. Crackling electronic beats carve out a dark path behind haunting vocals, and Jesus sounds supernatural, hovering in shadow between this life and the next. She embodies uncontrollable forces — death, darkness, spirit — and reigns in sonic chaos. Zola Jesus is too powerful for this mortal coil, and this dramatic track proves it. [8/10]

Ian Rushbury: If you took away the tribal drumming and the orchestral stabs, you’d be left with Zola Jesus singing along to her Evanescence CDs. From the “Ring” knockoff video to the whole “Goth-lite” approach, the whole thing looks more like a Saturday Night Live parody than something released in 2017. It’s not gloomy enough to be atmospheric or pop-y enough to be memorable. There has to be more than you can do with the format than this, surely? [3/10]

Jordan Blum: The video instantly makes me think of David Lynch and Lars von Trier, as well as Norwegian black metal. The music itself isn’t like that, of course; I actually dig the blend of tense strings, operatic lead singing, and angelic backing vocals. It’s kind of like a merger between NIN, Ulver, and modern Sia, with interesting dynamic changes throughout. Overall, it’s like a lost Björk piece, and there’s nothing wrong with that. [8/10]

John Garratt: Ooh, an open grave. Grainy footage in black & white, macabre strings, ghostly synths and spookily obscured vocals. I like to think that the Gothic pop from the early ’80s didn’t try have as hard to be this mysterious. After this, I’m scared to go back and check it all out. [3/10]

Chris Ingalls: In typical fashion, Zola Jesus brings plenty of drama and tension to her latest project. From her upcoming album, Okovi, “Exhumed” incorporates striking strings, insistent percussion cues, and multi-layered vocals that are not unlike some of Bjork’s most ambitious projects. There’s a defiant buzz to the whole thing that makes it impossible to ignore. [8/10]

Chris Thiessen: Zola Jesus makes her comeback (from the dead) in a video part Blair Witch Project and part The Ring. Her vocals over haunting strings and stuttering, almost trap-like rhythms bring the horrors of death and suicide as she tries to bring light into the “inevitability of death.” [6/10]

SCORE: 6.43