Tuesday, 9 February 2016

ZIPPO - After Us (Album Review)


Release date: March 2016. Label: Apocalyptic Witchcraft. Format: CD/DD/Vinyl

After Us – Tracklisting

1.Low Song
2.After Us
3.Comatose
4.Familiar Roads
5.Adrift (Yet Alive)
6.Stage6
7.Summer Black
8.The Leftovers

Band Members:

Dave - Vocals
Sergente - Guitar
Stonino - Bass
Ferico - Drums

Review:

Italian Sludge/Stoner Rockers – Zippo – have never played by the rules through out their musical career. They’ve released three excellent albums over the years and they’ve managed to create records that are truly different to each other. Not one Zippo album sounds alike and that’s a hard thing to do. I’ve seen Zippo classed as Sludge, Doom, Stoner, Post-Metal, Prog Rock and Psych over the years. It’s true that Zippo do use those musical elements in their music but these guys are still very hard to describe.

Their last album, Maktub – seen Zippo release perhaps their strongest album to date as they opted for a more Progressive style of Sludge/Stoner Metal but still with a keen eye on experimentation. Now five years later, Zippo have returned with their new album – After Us. It’s perhaps their most straight forward sounding album to date and that’s not a bad thing. As the band experiment with their sound for a more direct approach where the riffs and Davide’s vocals are more refined as a result.

Opening track – Low Song – has a bass heavy approach with the riffs becoming slightly louder and trippier with each passing moment. It’s good to hear Davide performing with Zippo once again after his recent adventures with his other band Shores Of Null. Davide opts for a more grizzled approach to his vocals especially when he chants towards the end of the song. Zippo add cool psychedelic noises with the band returning to their earlier prog-rock roots.

Second track – After Us – sees Zippo create an almost Nine Inch Nails industrial style song with down-tuned industrial riffs and almost grunge based vocals. Zippo merge Alice In Chains theatrics with a more modern day Sludge/Stoner feel. I feel that Davide is paying homage to his heroes of the legendary grunge scene. This is still undeniably Zippo’s show as they create a bleak Sludge/Stoner and almost grimy industrial atmosphere.

Third track – Comatose – carries on the bass heavy/industrial sounds set against a stunning progressive/psychedelic background with Davide showing his more tender side. Though it’s the heavy and distorted riffs that hold your attention especially when the swirling psych guitars come into play.

Fourth track – Familiar Roads – is one of the epic tracks on the album running at almost eight mins in length. It sees Zippo return to the sounds of their previous albums but with a more progressive experimental tone. Davide sounds like he’s channelling or singing from a different dimension. The song has a post-metal feel at times especially when the music slows right down. It’s quite addictive to listen to as Zippo add distorted drone based noises. The bass guitar and drumming is the main standout here as Stonino (Bass) and Ferico (Drums) create some heavy and hypnotic moments to lose you in.

Fifth track – Adrift (Yet Alive) is perhaps Zippo’s most straight-forward Sludge/Stoner Rock song they’ve written to date. They don’t experiment with their sound as much as they get down in creating fast-paced riffs with a dark distorted vibe holding things together. The vocals are a mixture of clean vocals and sinister based growls which I haven’t heard from Zippo before. It’s an intriguing style though I wouldn’t want to hear it all the time as it can be very distracting at times. Davide is angry through out and that gives him the chance to perform some of the albums best vocals.

The remaining three songs – Stage 6, Summer Black and The Leftovers – sees Zippo offer a wild ride in distorted grunge based mayhem with Prog, Psych, Sludge and Stoner Metal combining for an exciting finish. Summer Black deserves a special mention as it’s perhaps my fave song on the album. It sees Zippo opt for a more experimental psychedelic approach with cool sounds buried under the heavy distorted riffs.
As I said before, After Us is Zippo’s most straight-forward and most accessible album to date. Though don’t be fooled you’re in for an easy ride. You’re not!!!

Zippo like to challenge not only themselves with each album they release but also the listener as well. After Us demands your full attention from the start. After Us is Zippo’s finest album to date and I have a good feeling that this album will end up on a few best albums of the year list. It’s already grabbed a spot on mine. An incredible album.

Words by Steve Howe

Thanks to Zippo for the promo. After Us will be available to buy on CD/DD/Vinyl from Apocalyptic Witchcraft Records from March 2016.

Links:

Official | Facebook | BandCamp

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