ARTIST: ZIG ZAGS
TITLE: YOU’LL NEVER TAKE US ALIVE
WORDS: SOPHIA WATSON
With a name like Zig Zags you might be expecting something flamboyant; something like a mix of 80s glam and Queen; something like The Struts; but, if that’s what you were expecting then think again. A heady cocktail of metal and punk, vocals that echo in the name of Lemmy, and a dash of Metallica, Zig Zags serve an onslaught of heavy chords and tumultuous percussion in their new album ‘You’ll Never Take Us Alive’.
After eight years, three albums, seven singles, three bass players and two drummers Zigs Zags have managed to surpass any obstacle thrown their way – as suggested by the title of their latest record. Revitalised by each change, their latest inauguration – the introduction of their long-time sound engineer, Sean Hoffman as bassist – has left them feeling stronger than ever. This new era for the Los Angeles based trio has lead their psychedelic garage punk/metal fusion into a heavier realm, taking on a sound clearly inspiration by the metal greats; culminating in a fusion of Black Sabbath, Kill ‘em Era Metallica, Motorhead, and Black Flag. This third full length effort is dirtier and darker than anything from their previous canon – as their motto goes each record has to be ‘faster, harder and heavier’.
“dirtier and darker than anything from their previous canon.”
However, this is not without its issues, ‘You’ll Never Take Us Alive’ is at times frustratingly distorted, leaving the vocals to get lost amongst the heavy pummelling waves of guitar and drums. Instrumentally this filthy sound gives their metal/punk fusion a chance to be raw and raunchy, with power chords galore. Yet, somewhere there is an air of playfulness, with a laid back ‘I don’t give two fucks’ attitude, bringing to life the ideals of their punk heroes. It’s this attitude that allows their punk and metal influences to melt together to seamlessly; track ‘No Way Out’ creeps into the punk genre with its nasty rebellious authority, whereas ‘The Shout’ explores the quintessential metal edge.
The album opens with the song “Punk Fucking Metal”, a title that clearly depicts the concepts of the album. It has a clear beat throughout, with power chords ripping through, cymbals that tingle in the background, and an ending that is a slow crescendo into darkness. This style is established throughout the album: chords chug through with a tantalising pace, and bass lines rumble beneath. The next track, ‘Killer of Killers’ kicks things up another notch with a solo that gallops across the fret board with a stern pace, wailing over the percussion as it takes charge of the song. This is displayed again in the intro to ‘No Way Out’, where a finger tapping style instrumental opens the track with mighty force.
“a powerful punk/metal moment, in which the band begin to grow into their sound”
Despite the often repetitive sounds in this album Zig Zags have included the use of different vocal tones throughout. Darker growling vocals make an appearance on the closing number ‘God Sized’, whereas clearer vocals make an appearance in other songs such as ‘No Way Out’. Variation is also interjected through the addition of various sound effects. The use of spoken intros/outros, sounds of a marching band and a jet taking off have been introduced as a device to help set the tone of the song and direct the listener to the root of the song. This works particularly well in ‘Why I Carry A Knife’, where spoken interjections happen throughout to guide the song through its depiction of the crazy living inside them driven out by the nature of LA.
Zig Zags latest album is a powerful punk/metal moment, in which the band begin to grow into their sound, with help from their newest bassist. Whilst in areas it is crafted with thought, the trio like to keep it raw and rugged, keeping ‘You’ll Never Take Us Alive’ in keeping with their fusion sound. It’s easy to enjoy listening to Zig Zags and their lively style, and as they grow into their new line up it will be exciting to see where this band take their ever growing style.