Limerick, Ireland. The Emerald Isle as it’s affectionately called to many. Home to; great whiskies, tales of fantasy, folklore, strong beer, stout and my friends, Zombie Picnic.
Their sophomore album “Rise of a New Ideology” gives the band an even deeper drive and expanded musical spectrum here without reservation as your table is ready for a mind blowing experience in sound.
The cover art I find already captivating as it depicts that determined journeyman who finds that utopian state or lost world and the ideologies are different than what our minds have either been programmed to or have already discovered. The upside down pyramid gives us the notion that; things aren’t always what they seem, that life can be more than meets the eye, the world isn’t always black and white and how you perceive or see things may not be what the person next to you sees. Therefore with the music of Zombie Picnic, YOU the listener are that journeyman and journeywoman who has discovered a new world within sound and you are the pilot of your own audio invasion as you let this album seep in to your brain and let it drip is molten tones as far as they want to go down without stopping until they hardened deep within your psyche and you awaken from the dream and see life anew and different than before you pressed play or put the needle down on the turntable.
“Democracy Cannot Survive” opens up the album with a discordant fuzz ringing throughout and voices telling us of the approaching dystopian state and unease in the air. The synth backing tones segue way to a soft intro that feels like a blanket of Post Rock, almost Red Sparowes (from Oregon) but with their distinct ZP vibe to it. A subtle but still a heavy impression to begin with that I absolutely love. The drums supply a few rounds of rolls and embellishments to the growing feel of the song as guitars begin to pull out their wares and snaps above the smooth bass line that has you comfortable in your chair until the sharp sustain of guitar speaks louder and clearer in your ear and that bass drives you deeper in to your seat as you turn it up. The song speaks volumes without a single lyric which I have always loved when a band can deliver such an impression like that. About three quarters through the song floats through a passage where you just know something is going to erupt, the emerging sounds of a sitar rings throughout as you fall freely through the clouds and cool air against your face as the song lets you go releasing your soul to soar beyond the horizon as the band pours on the inflections and emotions of pure smooth tonal bliss with an edge of a storm looming in the background. The prologue to the fall of democracy and its lying country leaders who smile as they kill shaking hands, kissing babies as dollar signs glisten in their eyes. The thunder rolling in the background at the end gives you that ‘certain unease in the air’. All too true as that line in Pink Floyd’s Sheep is so fitting here because Zombie Picnic shows us that through music and sound we are not sheep but individuals who see through the veil of lies that Democracy Cannot Survive.
“They See Science as Dangerous”, a rather loaded title because so many people in different parts of the world actually believe this and one does not have to go far to find it. Religious fanatics and non-believers of science will argue as the day is long that its a dangerous game we play using science to discover and reveal the world around us. Here the band sprays us with a song that is the maniacal mentality of those who stand strong against science and the dangers it can possess should it be used for mass destruction or some kind of biological chemical warfare rather than for finding the cure for the common cold. Let people be sick from a virus that we have released then be well from the cure we has discovered. The tones here are strong and tight as the guitars send shivers down our spine, the drums pound like your heart after you ran that quarter mile and bass that thunders from your feet as you tear away the pavement. It shreds you to your core from start to finish. Don’t drive on a highway while listening to this track or you’ll be pulled over for excessive speeding or you’ll blow at high dough on a race track! The tempo is the speed in which one sees how arguments over religion vs. science or politics can arise and how the Rise of a New Ideology can interfere with people’s “comfortable” view of what the world should be. It builds from the presentation of the opening tones that emerge right from the gates and continue to progress in to a fury of sound and tension.
“DEFCON” sways in with a beautiful wave of sound and gentle tones. Bringing in a gentle breeze of colourful splashes and sustaining guitar notes that is a perfect example of that Post Rock sound. I was expecting something darker from the get go but was pleasantly surprised by what I heard. The song is a good release of tension and strain the previous track designed in my psyche, not a bad thing because it’s all part of the experience which I love. Eventually this one has a “Red Alert” charisma near the last parts of the track and leads you down to what is to; come, happen and happened thus far. Driving and pulsating track that has you leaning more and more towards the edge of your seat as it progresses. The tonal inflections are glistening and clean cut, every instrument is on a razor’s edge with the ability to push you over the limit of your envelope here, and it does. By the end the song you are running around with your hair on fire as the song has brought you to DEFCON 1 and you’re in the midst of panicking for where the key to your fallout shelter is as the song stops abruptly with a deafening silence and you are motionless awaiting the next track. Brilliance.
“Life-Support Systems” is a swaggering track that pens from the hands of musicians who pull and called upon their influences and masters before them. A wave upon wave of tones and swaying patterns bringing together the start of the latter half of the album. A perfect opener to side two or the second side of a cassette and the mid section to the CD! Again the band creates atmospheric pressure in your head as it goes from one end of the spectrum to the other making you feel the highs and lows of what it would be like to be on some sort of oxygenated system and surviving in some post-apocalyptic landscape. The choppy opening guitar tones are very reminiscent of the early punk movement and a joy to hear the band explore more than just one guitar tone throughout the album because they cascade through different sounds with all the instruments and every song gets what it deserves and the beginning of this track got a right good punchy start. This among many other things is what makes Zombie Picnic an absolute joy and a must to listen to at any time because they aren’t formatted to just one sound, they are exploratory in what they do with sound and the track has plenty to offer with its pulling back to go easy on you before it builds up to its scathing scratches of your skin through vibrant tones from the lowest to the highest. The rough feel to this song is like ripping that band-aid off in the middle of the night and waking you up with a scream. Nicely done ZP, nicely done.
“See Beyond” is a dreamlike start to a track that falls like dust on to the ground only to be softly blown away by the winds. Not quite two minutes in the song kicks off to third gear and rolls away like a Sysyphus’ stone getting away from him and gathers no moss as it barrels downhill uncontrollably. But the song is in full control and drives it home hard and straight. A solid force of sound here presents itself to our ears and has that classic Post Rock feel to it like the sounds we heard at the early inceptions of the genre so the band reveals its roots and soul to us here. Beefing up the mids and bass tones the song is a straight shooter for the genre and leaves no listener behind as they pull us in to the journey and through the various phases of the song we do See Beyond to towards the last track. The addition to the female voice in this track brings us to a more utopian state and that calm tone to her voice that you are at ease with the company you are in. A warming overtone that brings the song’s mounting pressures gradually to your audio palette and has you not just tapping but bouncing your foot to the thumping drum and bass beat as the guitars pull chords out of the damp air surrounding and landing them in your lap like new born grenades.
“Anger in Storage (Denial Will Follow)” comes full circle with the last track on the album and takes no prisoners i its wake. A strong powerful and scathing opening riff followed by a sinister bass line and that female voice now a haunting ghost in your mind and ringing throughout your skull disturbing your every move. A short blistering track that doesn’t need any further explanations to it nor did it need any lengthier time to say what it came to say. The cheese has been pushed off the cracker and mayhem has ensued here as the band pulls out all the stops, shifts the timbre and throws us in to an abyss of sound and crashing light filled imagery that is accentuated by the lightning storm that they present us with. A harsh reminder that eventually that pent up anger that is stored within the deepest and darkest part of your very being will one day come out and it is true that the damage done will only be followed by denial. This is bringing us to that full circle that one day someone very well push that button that says “Launch” not “lunch” and waste away millions then go on national television saying they didn’t do it or had no knowledge of it and deny, Deny, DENY EVERYTHING.
Zombie Picnic has given us the album that clearly defines this process and how finding that New Ideology is imminent in the 21st Century. Now I could be absolutely wrong on how the band has visioned this record but for me this is what I saw and heard; the failed attempt at that utopian state, destroying it and denying it ever happened and as people of the land we are bound to find a new ideology and rise to it and discover that we are A: not alone in the universe and B: living in a world with people who should not be running it.
Either way albums are meant to present themselves to the listener to take away what they feel from it and this album delivers many possibilities as well as stellar craftsmanship and musicianship in a display of superior sound, tones and Post/Prog Rock music to the umpteenth degree. Outstanding gentlemen.