Zola Jesus’ Latest Is A Witchy Battle Cry

“Exhumed” from the shackles

The opening notes of the first single off of Zola Jesus' forthcoming album are bone-chilling. "Exhumed" opens with a cinematic flourish of strings and soaring vocals that carry with them elements of dread, despair, and liberation. It's clear: Zola Jesus did not come here to play with this album.

Said project, titled Okovi, is born from a time of personal turmoil. After moving back to the Wisconsin woods where she was raised and building a tiny house, Zola Jesus turned inward. She writes in an artist statement/press release, "While writing Okovi, I endured people very close to me trying to die, and others trying desperately not to. Meanwhile, I was fighting through a haze so thick I wasn’t sure I’d find my way to the other side." She adds, "Death, in all of its masks, has been encircling everyone I love, and with it the questions of legacy, worth, and will."

It's heavy stuff but cathartic. "Exhumed" packs a magic energy unique to devastating experiences and trials. She explains that "okovi" is a Slavic word for "shackles," which makes "Exhumed" and its themes of breaking free and rebirth all the more poignant. "This album is a deeply personal snapshot of loss, reconciliation, and a sympathy for the chains that keep us all grounded to the unforgiving laws of nature," she says.

Zola Jesus reunites with longtime band member Alex DeGroot and returns to the Sacred Bones label, the closest people, she says, she'll "ever have to blood-bound family." Okovi drops September 8. Listen to "Exhumed," below.