If you could sum up the rage and discontent burning through the world right now it would be in the same kind of angry roar to be found in The City Of Sun, the new album from US punk metallers Zebras. The release is a brawl on the senses, a violent incitement for the emotions, and simply the best thing to come out of the band and arguably hardcore fuelled metal this year.
There is no surprise to the potency and hostility drenching the release, Zebras’ self-titled debut album of 2012 and subsequent release and songs, have all been virulent animosity equipped with the ability to stir addictive tendencies through fearsome hooks, wild rhythms, and searching grooves. The City Of Sun is exactly the same but the trio of guitarist/vocalist Vincent Presley, keyboardist Lacey Smith, and drummer Shane Hochstetler have taken and stretched everything to new benchmark setting levels.
Again like the uncontrollable bastard son of Lard and Dead Kennedys, but with its own ever increasing identity, the Zebra sound instantly burns as opener Hollow Earth brings The City Of Sun to dynamic life. An initial spicily grained groove pierced by thick rhythmic jabs grips ears and attention first, that lure within a few breaths unleashing antagonistic tension and weight as riffs and swinging beats descend with great zeal around the raw tones of Presley. An already in place appetite for the band through past successes explodes with greed as the song continues to twist and rage, the trio spinning a lethal yet contagious web of violence and doom bred turbulence.
It is an invigorating and addictive start continued by The Turning Of The Bones, where again the toxic invitation of grooves binds and enslaves as Hochstetler batters and Lacey’s keys stroke the senses. The repetitious nagging quality of riffs and grooves is also easily devoured manna, an essence which enhances every track upon the album as Presley’s ire shapes and colours the confrontational energy and heart of each incitement further like in the outstanding death shuffle of My Apocalypse and the corrosive majesty of The Bell. The first of these two bounces along throwing sonic spears and bone splitting beats out whilst ingraining the imagination with a hook lined groove carrying a Biafra and Co breeding. From one peak to another as its successor seamlessly escapes from its companion with its own hypnotically debilitating rancor and seriously catchy tirade of guitar and bass enterprise. Ministry at their corrosively niggling best comes to mind as the song continues to bind and scar but again the face and character of the song is all Zebras.
Baalbek is a rather similar tempest next, its body and lures closely matched to the previous track though with admittedly equal success, but in the only ‘issue’ with The City Of Sun there is certainly a kind of surface similarity to the tracks, and between others, which less bold and determined listeners might be fooled into thinking the album lacks strong variety. As The Garden swiftly shows it is not the case even though the template for songs is a constant seed. Expelling a thrash like urgency and tenacity, the song goes for the jugular straight away, uncaging more of the prime ravenous riffs and infesting grooves Zebras are already and set to be further acclaimed for. Swarming over the listener from every angle as vocals and drums create a hellacious and addictive beating, the track has ears ringing and emotions lusty, both more than ready for the barbarous tango of Levitation where punk and metal collude in engagingly oppressive conflict.
There is no let-up in the emotional fire and physical ferocity, or indeed the pleasure as firstly Solomon shares its exhaustive ill will and synth led exoticism and then Vitrified which comes forward with a sultry climate around a predacious turbulence of word, voice, and sound. The track is a spellbinding proposal, another fresh spark for the imagination with arguably the album’s most inventive and experimental song, and nectar for the instinctive desire for twisted tapestries of noise.
Closing with the sonic blaze and rhythmic grudge of Filled With Fire, Zebras leave the body shattered, senses drained, and emotions aflame. With only a wish for the synth craft of Lacey to be a little more forward in the overall production of the fabulous turmoil, Zebras has crafted another stunning release but more so their greatest triumph yet. They are a band come of creative age and with recent times seeing the band supporting the likes of Jello Biafra, Black Flag, Negative Approach, Melt Banana, High On Fire, Goatwhore, and Die Kreuzen, The City Of Sun offers inescapable reasons as to why Zebras should be spoken of in the same kind of acclaiming breath.
The City Of Sun is out now @ http://zebras.bandcamp.com/ digitally, on vinyl, and Ltd Ed CD.
Pete RingMaster 07/10/2015
Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright
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