Edition: 60
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Album reviews:
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01. Air raid
02. On the run
Everything goes in cycles, even in that stubborn stratosphere called Heavy Metal. Yet it is highly remarkable that, in our day and age of depressingly uniform media and a mainstream music industry on the brink of implosion, such an uncommercial thing as traditional heavy metal is alive and well. Young bands, from the Old World all the way to the US of ObamA, are popping up out of nowhere, forming a resistance to all that is bland, hype and forgettable. And, man, does it feel good.
Where else but in the metal underground would a young band have the idea and balls to release a handnumbered limited edition vinyl single in a white logo-only sleeve? Unerred by trends and hipness, upstarts Züül from Carbondale, Illinois have put out just such an item on Planet Metal Records. Both the A and B side testify to the fact that there’s something else out there in Retroland besides grungy lo-fi alternative and stoner rock with riffs and sounds pillaged from all the obvious late sixties and early seventies sources.

‘Air raid’ is a track so steeped in the NWoBHM era that it should bring an instant twinkling to any ‘eavy rocker’s eye. Mind you, not everyone who remembers those pioneering days fondly would applaud the more punkish bands of the time (the names of Tank or Jaguar or an early Maiden track like ‘Sanctuary’ springing to mind). Still, the raw energy inherent to punk remains its prime asset and Züül’s ‘Air raid’ oozes precisely that energy. Züül’s particular style of straight-up rhythm guitar work has a definite shoot-from-the-hip live feel to it. Michael Butcher and Hateful Jared (how’s that for stage names, eh) are aptly riffing and twinleading their way through the song, while mic-wielding brother in arms Baron Wolf Batteau has the ‘three-pints-of-lager-and-it’s-a-go’ type of voice that you’d find on many a British private press single from 1980. Seems like we’ve come full circle, wouldn’t you agree?

On the B side, Züül have fittingly packed their tribute to one of NWoBHM’s lesser known corners: a cover version of Crucifixion’s ‘On the run’, from the latter band’s 1982 single ‘Take it or leave it’ on Neat Records. On this uptempo cut, Batteau goes the extra mile, with bassist Bob Scott and drummer The Mosquito Hawk whipping things forward. Guitars sound as crisply underproduced – please note that this is a compliment - as is necessary for the material. All of this, of course, proving once more that the only Pro Tools you need next to your talent are a guitar with a few dents and scratches and an amp that can cut the mustard.
If this 7’ has got the strong ale in your adrenalin flowing, look out for the upcoming LP ‘Out of time’. Title-wise, that’s hitting the nail on the head with music like Züül’s. The vinyl’s due out in Europe on Germany’s High Roller Records, a young label already much praised for its high quality reissues as limited pressings. With ‘Warriors’ and ‘Warhammer’, Züül have put two new tracks off the debut record online on their MySpace that easily top ‘Air raid’. Word on the street is that we retroactive headbangers will have an shitekicker of an album in our hands before many moons have passed. The single, as mentioned above limited to a 1000 handnumbered copies, is also available from High Roller Records. Oh, and where does that odd band name come from, you ask. The answer being: go forth and Google.

  Rating: - /100

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