(Here’s Wil Cifer‘s review of a new album by the Los Angeles death metal band Zous, which was released at the end of May by Closed Casket Activities.)
This might seem weird since I am normally the guy who covers the darker more post-punk leaning bands or classic traditional metal. I do like more overtly heavy stuff as well, since during most of my teens I was into hardcore. By hardcore, I mean I saw the Cro-Mags on the “Age of Quarrel” tour while wearing my first pair of combat boots.
This solo project Zous from Nails drummer Taylor Young celebrates various shades of heavy that I love, as they are all nihilistic and dark in their wrathful pummeling. Young wrote, performed, produced, and engineered this entire album. He did enlist his buddies to come in and help out when it is time for the obligatory guitar solo.
This project was intended as old school death metal. It might never chug in the direction of the many Meshuggah worshippers or employ In Flames-inspired guitar harmonies; it does grind and crunch with more of a modern hardcore feel than anything in the zip code of Morbid Angel.
Considering what Taylor Young does in Nails, this makes perfect sense. Aside from the opening track’s intensity, he is still doing his own thing here. Aside from the fact this album is heavy and crushingly intense, it is a much different flavor of abrasive aggression than what normally colors Nails’ sound.
“Pray a Lie” is even more aggressive than the opening track. The vocals, which growl at a low gurgle, are the most old school thing in the overall sound. That is not to say the guitars on “Pray a Lie” cannot be traced back to Tampa death metal in the late ‘8os, and on “Stepped On” they reach back further to the place where early death metal emerged from thrash.
The guests on this album are not limited to just guitar solos, as underground ’90s hardcore legend Brad Boatright of From Ashes Rise fame contributes more shouted than growled vocals. They sit back in the mix, yelling out from behind the guitars in a more Tom Araya manner. The bulk of the album is not a blur of double-bass rushing you through the songs; in fact it is not until “Stepped On” that they really seize the moment to lay it on thick with the speed.
Leon Del Muerte of Murder Construct lends a guitar solo to “Authoriticon”. It reminds me of Formulas Fatal to the Flesh-era Morbid Angel in the way it grinds like a mammoth tanklike machine of death. Things are more deliberate on “Event Horizon”, which has some of the most relentless riffs ever to crush your skull. Chris Reifert adds his voice in the middle section of the song, but by this point in the album I welcomed more vocal colors.
This summer is already hotter than all hell, which matches the trajectory of the world around us, so here is a great angry soundtrack for the decline of mankind. If you are a fan of metallic hardcore or death metal with those leanings this album is well worth the listen.
‘stepped on’ easily has the breakdown of the year.