Zero Again: Out Of The Crooked Timber of Humanity – EP review
Out Of The Crooked Timber of Humanity
Out 20 Feb, pre-orders available now
This debut EP from a West Country band populated by a cast of seasoned hands takes a bleak, dark thrashy folk horror look at 2020.
Powered by plants, Anti-fascist and DIY, Zero Again take their name from a Rudimentary Peni song and they are a bunch of people with form in some seriously good bands, so this was always going to be a good record. They started off trying to keep their identity under wraps so as Zero Again would be taken on its own merits, but the kids wanna know… Payney has played guitar in more bands than I would hazard to guess including Bring To Ruin, Regret, Social Experiment and In The Shit. Ian Glasper, when he’s not documenting the UK DIY hardcore punk scene, has provided the 4 string for the likes of Warwound, Decadence Within, Stampin’ Ground and even Flux of Pink Indians. In Glenn, they have bagged one of the best drummers of the current UK hardcore crop (check what I had to say about his work in Grand Collapse). Dean from Regret is a man with a fearsome roar and an imposing presence in a live situation.
Tragedy Death Pain kicks off the EP with a heavy and rhythmic feel. Not dissimilar to the way some 90s US bands like Born Against and Econochrist came at you. Then the vocals kick in, all heavy and demonic, you are dragged down beneath the ground with the crust turned up to the max giving it a His Hero Is Gone feel. Effects on the guitar create depth with the echo and a hint of psychedelia – this is a dark, bad, trip not tie-dye and flowers: think Hellraiser, not Woodstock! The combination of heaviness with the spangle of psychedelic guitar is something Killing Joke made their turf and is a space often left vacant, with the occasional interloper such as Cross Stitched Eyes. The overall vibe with Zero Again is dark and otherworldly – crust with a hint of death rock. And if you didn’t know you’d probably hazard a guess this has connections with the West Country where old traditions prevail – a place that spawned bands such as Amebix and Zygote.
No One To Mourn is a stompy little number with a crushing driving riff. The guitar melody towards the end of the song adds to the sense of folk horror in musical form. Husk is a breakneck skull smashing affair, all galloping drums and guitar chiming like death tolls on the chorus. Like the following song, Covid Dreams it recreates the panic and chaos nightmare. There’s a hallucinatory feel to it, something that Lard managed on a few occasions. Add to this some Disorder “aaarrrgghhs” and you’ve got a great singalong punk tune. Hope You’re Proud is straight-up crusty anarcho-hardcore where Behind Enemy Lines, Aus Rotten and Antisect intersect. Bass and drums provide the impetus, vocals are a barrage of shouting and it’s topped off with a whining Dishcrgae meets Antisect guitar solo.
2020 is writ large across the record. It’s obvious from the song titles. As SLF famously wrote about what they knew, so have Zero Again. What do any of us know right now? The pandemic features in lyrics like “The viral zeitgeist of unseen terror Socially distanced forevermore”, “We are all disposable; we’re all left to die alone Our Bodies left in corridors; with no one round to mourn “, “Quarantined, Isolate, Covid dreams, Lie in wait”. Hope You’re Proud takes a look at the violence and racism dished out by the police on the other side of the Atlantic but the sentiment applies everywhere. Zero Again recognise the bleakness of our existence: “Empty shells searching for meaning Hoping that others will see Just futile caskets, of flesh, blood and bone Our ambition dies with us; unknown”
To have formed, written and recorded in the throes of a global pandemic is no mean feat given that many bands haven’t even been able to practise. To have released something so powerful and yet still creative is a stroke of genius.
Available on pre-order now, shipping 20 February
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All words by Nathan Brown. You can read more from Nathan on his Louder Than War archive over here.
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