Review Summary: Hordes of retarded cavemen beat the shit out of R2-D2.4 of 5 thought this review was well written
You may not have seen this album before, but that’s understandable – the Carboniferous period was a time of low sea
levels. But don’t worry; I’m here to help.
Zu have been out on their own limb for their brief 10-year reign, in which they have belted out 14 albums including two live albums and two splits. The Italian trio have conjured up an innovative and dangerous sound best described as a fusion of Math Rock, Noise Rock, Metal and Avant-Garde Jazz. But at the warm, blood-pumping core of the Zu heart, is the sweet, ridiculously primitive sound of “Experimental” at it’s unrivalled and genre defying best. I say, “the best”, because as ‘Ace Ventura: Pet Detective’ taught us: “They’re the best there is! (Actually, they’re the only one there is)”.
It’s not hard to be genre defying. Any band could just hit saucepans together, add incomprehensible vox and whack together some industrial synths to create (…actually…that could work) a new genre, and the ‘heads wankfest would ensue (*cough* Nahvalr self-titled *cough*). But it takes good musicianship and some killer riffs (of which the subliminally mentioned album had none – riffs that is, let alone killer ones) to separate the trendsetters from the posers. Enter Carboniferous.
Whilst the Carboniferous period did not support any form of humanoid life form, the point still stands that Carboniferous (we’re talking about the album this time, pay attention) is what the caveman would have blasted out as they sat huddled in their grottos spilling ill-smelling stew on their bearskins, were it possible. The 15th album pays homage to the archaic period of pre-civilization in savage, substratal, Sarcopterygian-sea-symbiosis style. If you’re looking for grace and subtlety, you’re looking in the wrong place. Carboniferous has balls. The unsystematic sax and boisterous bass, spasmodically convulses and writhes its way across 10 tracks, leaving the listener feeling nauseated and somewhat, violated
. For clever song writing, this is not; it is however, the raw energy of 50 million years packed into 50 minutes of dehumanised noise.
The album kicks off with some tortured sax and tight drumming, and then deviates into paths unknown from which Carboniferous is spawned. Once the guitars enter, we know we’re in for a treat. Pandemonium continues until erupting on the third track, Carbon
, where the bass and high-pitched guitar act in opposition as if hordes of retarded cavemen were beating the sh*t out of R2-D2. On Beata Viscera
we hear some brilliant synths amongst some heavy-ass basswork. The album is getting wild now and we’re only on the third track. It is in this song we here the catchiest riff yet. I like to believe that the synths are crazy flying insects on the amphibians back and suddenly the old lizard lets fly, stomping around trying to free himself of the insects: DUNNNN----DUN-DUN-DUN-DUN. More stomping as the 2 metre long Tetrapod thrashes around the swamp violently shaking blood-sucking invertebrates from his back, the synths return displaying the insects desperate attempt at clinging on, only to be thrown off again as bass drums and guitar combine to discharge a wave of reptilian rage. But we’ve heard nothing yet. Suspense…
. My favourite track. As the insect-amphibian fiasco draws to a close, the familiar bass propels Erineys into familiar territory heard before on the first four tracks. A blastbeat occurs, the riff is repeated followed by another blastbeat and then comes the sax. Up and down, all around. Gyrating in any way and every way, this song doesn’t stop until it’s taken you around the whole f*cking world and back. Sick guitars and vitriolic basslines, this tune will satiate any hypomanic and it doesn’t sound superfluous, which could be argued for some of the later tracks on the album. The chorus is insane and sounds a bit like the Doctor Who theme song on acid. Soulympics
brings us back to the traditional sound shrouded in remarkable synthesizers with guest vocals by Mike Patton. The effect is interesting to say the least. Sreams, growls and whines galore may be a little off-putting for some people, especially since it is the only track with vocals. Unfortunately, the second half of the album is weaker and tracks seem to drag in a tiresome manner, especially on numbers such as Mimosa Hostilis
. The album concludes with an ambient track, which doesn’t hurt the listener, although is anti-climatic since there could’ve been a stronger finish to the album.
But after all the cavemen have put down their clubs, all the insects have gone off to eat piles of crap, and R2-D2 helplessly spins around in circles for an hour and a half, we’re left with one unique and very interesting album that looks to be a contender for a spot in a few 2009 best-of lists.
Zu’s “Carboniferous” is out February 17, 2009 via Ipecac Records