Review Summary: A new face on the metal scene, specializing in a late-era Carcass style of death'n'roll.
Like their band-bio states, ZX Spectrum
picks up the death’n’roll/death rock style where Carcass
ceased to be. Hailing from Latvia of all places, this band is obviously still quite young – having formed roughly in 2001-2002 – but could yet see a bright future within the heavy metal scene. There is no doubt that there is some kind of following for this specific metal sub-genre, leaving space for a burgeoning young group. The first demo and second demo CD, Human Herd
are marred by quality issues – the band virtually recorded everything themselves with their own equipment. This, however, seems to add a certain charm to the overall sound they produce, also giving the music a seemingly older quality. Despite this, the band is slowly gaining a following, enforcing this by making their work more accessible to potential listeners: Human Herd
is available for listen or download in its entirety at http://www.last.fm/music/ZX+Spectrum/Human+Herd
, or in a better quality format at the band’s ‘music’ section on their homepage http://www.zx-spectrum.org/
The band’s approach is at the very least an interesting one. This isn’t to say they deserve the credit for the sound they’re putting out – this has been done before and is still (seemingly scarcely) being done. The interest lies in the subtle spin their able to put on the death’n’roll spin-off without straying too far from their “roots”. The comparison to Carcass is undeniable and intentional, so try not to let that mar your listening experience. The fact that this band is attempting to dedicate their entire being to this style rather than simply a record should be commended by genre-fans rather than repelled.
All Carcass-comparisons and assumptions of the future aside, Human Herd
is a pretty easy record to listen to. It combines the guitar-hooks and catchy, radio-friendly focused melodies of rock music with the harsh, distorted scrape of death metal music, with guttural, growling vocals to boot. The record kicks off with Indigo Children
, which pretty much sets the pace for the following: rapid bursts of metal (noted in the crunchy, distorted riffs, scattered solos and blasting drum beats) intertwined with catchy rock melodies and hooks. Consistency is key on a record like this, and ZX Spectrum does not disappoint in this department. Raw yet talented guitar solos interrupt most of the tracks, beginning with an extended shred on the first track. A slower, almost “stoner-rock” riff dominates the majority of the demo’s title-track, evolving into a groovy, head-banging hook. One of the best offerings on Human Herd
is the infectious Dismiss the Politics
: this epitomises the band’s overall sound and is a good place for curious listeners to start. From here on in it’s swaying solo after swaying solo, and thick grooves providing a solid backbone. The demo also makes good use of layering multi-guitar leads with the rhythm section, considering the means by which the material was recorded.
A track-by-track breakdown seems useless (and more than likely unwanted) for readers, since the overall flow of this record works well enough to avoid weak-spots. There is something of interest in every track on the record, even in its sparsest form. You may not like the vocals, the drums may not have enough of a punch to them, but there is definitely something for melodic metal lovers to enjoy here. Oh yeah, and there’s the strangely chosen Roxette
cover of Sleeping in My Car
to boot. If anything, one considering this band can hope for the possibility of a label-released record and the potential it could have on the sound of ZX Spectrum.
Recommended tracks: Dismiss the Politics
, Trite Tricks
, There’s Nothing More to Sing About
, Benediction Guaranteed
, Human Herd
and The Hype