Anything with a tag like “L.A. punk/metal trio” is bound to draw me towards it instantly. And I’ll be damned if this could be any more literal; when you hear punk and metal, you’re immediately gonna think “oh, that’s thrash or crossover,” but with Zig Zags, it simply isn’t the case. Their upcoming effort They’ll Never Take Us Alive is the closest to punk a metal release has ever gotten without really being “crossover,” at least from what I’ve heard. Thus, them having a song titled “Punk Fucking Metal” is extremely fitting.
Fair warning, this is a very noisy release that sends waves of distortion over the guitars and vocals alike, making the delivery quite rough. No shocker here, but it’s a bit ridiculous too, especially with the lyrics and musical build-in songs like “Killer Of Killers” or “Why I Carry A Knife.” If you’re anything like me, neither of these points will turn you away. To top it off, there’s some clear surf influence to this with beach-type vibes and a fun aura of energy to this similar to what pumps through the veins of party thrash.
For something with vocals that have such a muddy distortion, the singing is rather accessible and carries plenty of melody. Picture early Ted Nugent behind the mic but with a harder kick and a drop of crunch. This plays along smoothly with the punk and metal driven numbers alike. “No Way Out” is one of the few songs that lean way closer to the punk spectrum than the rest, thanks to its stripped-down power chord build, and rebellious attitude. “The Shout” on the other hand couldn’t be any more metal, hinting at thrashy approaches that ultimately mold back into traditional speed metal form.
They’ll Never Take Us Alive isn’t all black and white though, because there’s additional method to the madness. The title track utilizes the bass for a really bumping up-tempo backing played in major scales. On top of this, gang chants and synths are poured on without any signs of stiffness. My only complaint is the way that this disc tapers down near the end. The further you get, the weirder and more drenched in distortion it gets, to the point that it feels over-saturated. The final two tracks “Nothing To Do” and “God Sized” are bloated balls of noise that sound like scratched strings and effects blended together. Maybe that’s the point, but I didn’t dig it like the rest.
If the final two tracks were taken off, this would be pretty much flawless. Not only are Zig Zags unique in their way of fusing two different parties together, but it’s done with incredible tactics. If you can get past excess noise and effects that don’t take away from the talent, then this needs to be heard by any punk or classic metal goer. Speed is emphasized everywhere, so pop this on and fly down some highways.
They’ll Never Take Us Alive will be released on May 10th, 2019 by RidingEasy Records and will be available through the label.