Review Summary: While some may be dissapointed that Mammal have not been able to fully transfer their amazing live energy to studio, The Majority is still one of the better hard rock albums of 2008.2 of 2 thought this review was well written
Known for their exhilarating live shows, politically motivated lyrics and egotistic lead vocalist Ezekiel Ox, Mammal are one of those bands that everyone should experience, for better or for worse. As a band that has built what is almost a cult fan base through word of mouth alone, Mammal have gone from playing supports in small pubs around Australia to high profile festival slots, sold out headlining shows and major supports for international bands such as Kiss in less than two years. The Majority
, Mammal’s debut studio album comes after three previous releases and while some may be disappointed that the band hasn’t quite managed to grasp the amazing amounts of energy found on their live album (Vol 1: The Aural Underground
), it still packs a hell of a punch.
Combining with producer Eric Sarafin (Ben Harper, The Pharcyde) in an attempt to keep their raw, animalistic sound for record, Mammal with their mix of funk, rock and prog have come out the other side with a set of songs that don’t rely on studio tricks, enabling their instruments and voices to do the talking.
Opening up proceedings with hard rock number “The Aural Underground”, combining Pete Williamson’s trademark funk influenced riffs and Zeke’s lyrics “we aint no hit machine, we’re just hear to please your soul”
it reads like the perfect mission statement for the band and a great way to open a debut album. In the first minute or so of first single “Smash the Piñata”, it is immediately obvious how far Mammal have come since their self titled EP, starting out with Zeke rapping over just Zane Rosanoski’s drums and Nick Adams’ bass before the full band break loose, ending with a huge climax with Zeke snarling “Step back, cos you’ve got what we want right now, divvy up the goodies as you share them around..... come down, smash the piñata as you come down”
over what is the heaviest part on the whole record.
Zeke’s politically motivated lyrics are prevalent throughout The Majority
; in fact, it is the better cuts that contain the more confronting and provocative lyrics. See the pulsing title track where Zeke tackles racism and discrimination, spitting “They call you towel head, slope and chink, you’re the minority”
, and while they might seem a little pretentious for some, underneath lies a message, that in some way, we are all a minority and therefore discrimination is pointless. Slow burner “Religion” takes on the very subject and its miseries, even paying homage to Cog, the band that helped Mammal find their feet when they started out with Zeke singing “from the Rubicon in the back of Gower”
. While “Clear Enough?”, which is hands down the best song on the album sees Mammal displaying their Rage Against the Machine influence to a tee. Featuring Zeke at his most pissed off, taking a stab at society and people in general’s need to conform, spitting “Have I painted a portrait or picture that’s clear enough?”
in a fast paced rap interchanging with Williamson’s proggy guitar soloing, it makes it very hard for one not to start jumping around like a madman.
also shows that Mammal have learnt when to take the foot off the accelerator and do a bit of experimenting with their influences, see the funk and Chili Peppers inspired “Mr Devil” or the unbelievably catchy funk anthem “Burn Out”, which is probably the simplest track on the album but also one of the strongest, containing a chorus that is sure to get stuck in your head for days. While instrumental track “Zero Infinity” gives off a tribal feel incorporating, amongst other weird and wonderful things, a didgeridoo.
Final track “Living in Sin” sees Mammal and in particular Zeke touch on one of the more delicate subjects in Australia today, the discrimination of Indigenous Australians with Zeke singing ”people walking on the icons proudly.... black, red and yellow, roots have been seeded, with nothing left to defend”
. It is a song that is guaranteed to get you thinking while showing that Zeke doesn’t have to spit his lyrics in anger to get such a strong message across.
While not completely being able to transfer the bucket loads of energy that Mammal’s live show entails to the studio, the Zeke and Co. have still managed to create one of the better hard rock albums of 2008 and once that transition happens successfully there is no telling where Mammal will end up. However, Mammal is an entity that will go on regardless of their studio ventures because, going by their current trend, the only way is up.