An unfortunate title maybe? Or perhaps an unforgettable one. 2020 will have either an asterisk next to it in the history books or a big fuck off red line through it.
Moving away from the clusterfuck of the year (so far) Zombi have released their first album since 2015’s Shape Shift and have shifted further away from their Goblin inspired synth soundtrack past.
This latest collection owes more to Blue Oyster Cult and Rush than it does the works of Dario Argento’s collaborators. Fans of Geddy Lee and co who are still drying their eyes on their bell bottoms over the demise of the band would do well to pick up this instrumental tribute to expansive classic Prog rock.
That is not to say that Steve Moore and Anthony Paterra have moved a great distance away from the world of synth-based rock. Far from it. The opening two tracks “Breakthrough and Conquer” and “Earthscape” both carry the hallmarks of previous Zombi releases in their late 70’s futuristic stylings. The former hits the ears like soundtracks from the classic synthwave muse Outrun smashing it’s hot fenders into an early 80’s Saturday tea time action show. Earthscape adds in an infectious head-nodder of a riff that really puts the groove in the smoove!
Once the big drums crash through the opening bars of “No Damage” things take a giant – Godzilla like- stomp into classic rock territory. This is rock for cape wearing and stadia levelling. The riffs are big, sure but the drums are mahoosive. Any fan of Neil Peart will moisten their gusset at the crescendo contained within . XYZT next? Could it be any more obvious where the props are heading? Surely a tip of the hat to the Canadians tribute to their local airport this track operates in the same expansive light sphere that the few Rush tracks I know also exist in and this is true for the majority of 2020.
“Family Man” has a menacing air like an animatronic beast looming over the bands native Pittsburgh preparing to reduce the steel town to smelted ingots. To keep with the monster movie theme “Mountain Ranges” finds the beast I have conjured in my mind prowling the mountainous woodland of Deer Hunter fame (this is all in my mind folks remember). This track has an epic 80’s soundtrack feel with the kind of drum flurries that seem to precipitate Huey’s drifting vertically into shot.
Anthony Paterra worked his arse off on this album behind the kit. “First Flower” again has a massive 70’s drum sound that drives this dark ditty. Noting floral about this grandiose and ominous instrumental, it’s more like a piece used to introduce a nefarious villain in an epic space western.
“Thoughtforms” the final track is another trip into synthwave territory – I feel like Sarah Connor eluding a rubbery Terminator in a police station as it rumbles on. All that is missing is the VHS box to read the cast-list off.
2020 is definitely a Zombi album – all the sweeping, nostalgic, cinematic trademarks are there but this time the pair’s Delorean flits between late 70’s/early 80’s sci-fi and mid 70’s stadium rock. If either of those float your boat then this is one cinematic trip you will enjoy.
(7.5/10 Matt Mason)