Zombi 2. Zombie Flesh Eaters. L’Enfer de Zombies. Zombie. Lucio Fulci’s most well-known undead opus has many names, but, no matter what you call it, it remains one of the most well-known and effective gut-munchers from the heyday of Italian horror, if not in all of horror cinema, period. Stacked with memorable set-pieces, lightly seasoned with some nudity and heavily drenched in gore (not to mention atmosphere), and propelled by an effective score by Fabio Frizzi, Fulci’s gross-out zombie romp has assaulted, and inspired, horror fans for many years. Quentin Tarantino to Rob Zombie have all taken cues from Lucio Fulci’s work, and, even if you haven’t seen the flick yourself, it’s likely that you’re familiar with its famous poster of a leering zombie head with the tagline WE ARE GOING TO EAT YOU screaming up from below. Or, if not, you most likely have heard about what is perhaps its most memorable scene, in which a zombie literally fights a shark. If you haven’t seen this flick, finish reading this review and IMMEDIATELY dig it up.
This is no review of Lucio Fulci’s cinematic undead assault, however, but for TROPICAL SUN, the newest album by Italian death metal monsters FULCI (named after the Italian maestro), and Indy Metal Vault has the puerile premiere RIGHT HERE. Fucli was formed in 2013 and hail from Caserta, southern Italy, and describe Tropical Sun as a concept album based on Fulci’s 1979 film Zombi 2. The album follows on the heels of FULCI’s (the band) Opening The Gates Of Hell (2015), based on another of Lucio Fulci’s zombie epics, 1980’s City Of The Living Dead (aka The Gates of Hell).
Let’s get this out of the way – Fulci’s Tropical Sun is a wonderfully brutal aural assault. The riffs are as tight and piercing as a splinter in the eye, the vocals are a relentless series of growls from beyond the grave and the drums… well, it’s a drum machine, but it fits what Fulci are going for with their “fuck the living, love the dead” sound. “Voodoo Gore Ritual” is the opening track, immediately conjuring acts like Mortician with repeated audio clips from Lucio Fulci’s Zombi 2, the band sets a horrendous and oppressive atmosphere. This darkness is continued with the first proper song on the album, the title track “Tropical Sun,” which serves as a great preview of what to come. In the press materials for the record, Fulci claim to “fuse old school death metal riffs, groovy slams, and horror samples for a malicious medley of controlled chaos that wakes the dead!” This is no hyperbole; this album will be a terrifying treat to lovers of death/gore metal and the horror flicks from which they take their inspiration.
From here, the formula stays the same throughout most of the album, with tracks sampling Lucio Fulci’s film offsetting the nonstop, relentless metal mayhem that Fulci consistently delivers. Tracks like “Legion of the Resurrected,” “Genetic Zombification,” and the standout “Eye Full Of Maggots” (inspired by Zombi 2’s aforementioned cover-zombie) keep the brutality going at a fast and furious pace, while “Church of the Undead” and “Blue Inferno” feature moments of sludge-churning, gut-rearranging moments that crawl slowly forward like a ghoul fresh from its tropical tomb before plunging you back into the musical mayhem these Italian death metal masters continuously spew forth. Surprisingly, the album closes with two instrumental tracks, “Immortality Virus,” synth-heavy pieces of haunting, beautiful music very reminiscent of Fabio Frizzi’s score for Zombi 2, and “March of the Living Dead,” a synth and death metal mashup that actually features some of Frizzi’s score. While some death metal purists may balk at the synth-only “Immortality Virus,” it would really take the most hardened metalhead cynic to not take perverse, unholy joy from “March of the Living Dead.”
Tropical Sun doesn’t reinvent the wheel, nor is it going to be fighting for the title of the best that death metal has to offer, but that’s hardly the point. Tropical Sun is an absolute blast from start to finish, providing enough brutality, riffs, and gore-soaked death metal (with one or two hints of the melodic) that should please any metalhead gorehound. The album is both a fitting tribute to one of the best cinematic gore classics of the genre and also an impressive, violent, and well-crafted death metal albums to arrive on our shores this year. Fulci are an impressive trio, and Tropical Sun will no doubt please fans of the band, and will more than likely lead initiates to the group to seek out more of their eyeball piercing, neck tearing output. FULCI LIVES!
From the band themselves: “Without dub, Lucio Fulci’s horror films have inspired the aesthetics of many metal bands. The new album Tropical Sun is a concept based on the cult movie ZOMBI 2. The film is set in a tropical paradise that suddenly turns into hell when the dead come back to life due to a voodoo ritual or a virus. The “Sun” of the title in fact also refers to the infernal fire. The scenes and mood of the film are narrated in a deeply apocalyptic / splatter way through our lyrics. There is talk of Voodoo rituals and genetic experiments, cemeteries surrounded by palms and legions of the living dead and even an underwater fight between sharks and zombies! Inspired by the original soundtrack by Fabio Frizzi we have included some parts of the film’s synth and audio that help make Tropical Sun a true death metal soundtrack.”
Tropical Sun is out 31 May 2019 on TimeToKill Records. You can preorder the album here.
Catch them on the west coast this summer.
May 30th, San Diego, CA – The Tower Bar
June 1st, Los Angeles, CA – Muzikneum
June 3rd, Albuquerque, NM – Moonlight Lounge
June 4th, Tempe, AZ – Yucca Tap Room
June 5th, Bullhead City, AZ – Lazy Harry’s
June 6th, Las Vegas, NV – Las Vegas Death Fest
June 7th, Las Vegas, NV – Las Vegas Death Fest
June 8th, Stockton, CA – Secret Show
June 9th, Concord, CA – Red Hat