Often times when a band mixes too many genres together the result is just downright dreadful. Zuul FX is one of those bands who blend a series of different genres into their original and brutal metal sound. Luckily they are the ones who actually manage to create a sound that is thoroughly enjoyable, not a poopty mix of genres that turns into a noise halfway through the first song. Blending elements from hardcore, death metal, groove metal and Fear Factory-esque industrial, Zuul FX have created something original and refreshing on the somewhat tired European metal scene.
The general sound of the band reminds me Fear Factory a lot. The drumming sounds a little bit mechanical and the guitars are really heavy. Also, the clean vocals that are displayed in some of the choruses are haunting just like in Fear Factory. The gruff, screamed vocals though destroy everything that Burton from FF has ever done by a mile. What's best, the vocalist Steeve Petit can pull it off live as well with a style. His screams are loud and clear, with a little growl thrown into them. Zuul FX isn't another FF clone band though, there are many surprises to come on the way and other influences are present too (Static X is definitely a influence on Zuul FX too).
One thing this band does very well is that they are able to keep the tempo they start their albums with. While the pace of the songs might be different then the overall gait on this album is very energetic from start to finish. From the powerful opener "Behind The Light" to the crushing closer "Hypochrist (The Dogs Of God)" the energy never lets up. The guitar-lines are always refreshing albeit not too complex and the dark synth melodies thrown into the mix contribute greatly to the atmosphere. Actually, the atmosphere on By The Cross is somewhat sinister, yet holy at the same time. It's like dirty rocking in a cathedral - you know the place is holy, but you don't really care if you desecrate it a bit.
As for the standouts, while this album is very consistent in general, there are a couple of tunes that are especially memorable. First-off, the opener “Behind The Light” strikes the listener with no-nonsense metal with a dark undercurrent. Sweet vocal performance along with crushing riffs and a memorable chorus make this a sure standout. Other standouts are "I 8 U” - an angsty crowd pleaser that usually warrant's a huge moshpit during live performances - , “Devil Star” – a rhythmic metal song, which has a simple but effective build-up – and “Live Your Life (Shawn 06)” which is once again a heavy, groove/death mix.
To come back to the Fear Factory comparisons for a slight second again, it must be noted that while there have been many bands (especially in the States) who have tried to imitate Fear Factory, none of them have really been successful at it. And while Zuul FX definitely doesn’t try to do that, they are (at least in my opinion) the first band to actually succeed in making a sound that is reminiscent to Fear Factory, yet is original and fresh enough to please metal fans around the globe.
By The Cross is a fresh take on the Fear Factory-esque type of metal. Downright awesome vocal performance that is complimented by the crushing guitars and machine-like drums (drum machine itself was not used during the recording of By The Cross) give this album life and the dark synth melodies help craft the atmosphere. The songs aren’t really long - majority of them are about 3.30 to 4 minutes long - and are mostly to the point. There aren’t any awesome melodies found in here, but the overall sound more than makes up for the lack of them. Heavy, crushing, brutal, aweless – these are the key words for this album, By The Cross is recommended for anyone who likes metal music.