A band who name themselves after the Italian title of George Romero’s Dawn Of The Dead with a soundtrack by Goblin (who they’re inspired by) can only be a good thing. Zombi are a Pittsburgh duo who have been around for 20 years and consist of Steve Moore on Bass/Synths and Anthony Paterra on Drums. 2020 is their first release in five years and their sixth album overall.
The album cover is what strikes me from the off, the top floor of a multi-story car park with tyre tracks of a long since departed car and a skyscraper shimmering in the distance. It has a certain filmic quality, reminding me of Nicolas Winding Refn’s 2008 film Drive. A glossy and glamorous exterior concealing the darkness and perhaps hinting at the music contained within.
Opener Breakthrough & Conquer has a driving sound, like it would fit on any number of 1980s Michael Mann movies, Manhunter specifically. Despite the clear heavy 80s inflections it is performed tastefully, the synths blending in well with the rest of the instrumentation and without resorting to outright cheese. The track reminds me of Genesis’ Behind The Lines from their 1980 classic album Duke, smartly performed progressive pop, before Phil Collins’ solo ballads ruined everything. A promising start.
Earthscraper takes more of a downbeat turn, akin to doom gone synth. If Wino ever decided to experiment with electronica then it would possibly not sound a million miles away from this and after the bracing opener it was a necessary comedown. No Damage continues the doom vibes with an epic Candlemass feel, if Messiah Marcolin made a guest appearance I would not be overly surprised. It’s a track that you could imagine walking around a graveyard to late at night.
Its cinematic scope and effortless changes in genres and tempos kept me enraptured throughout…
After two heavier sounding numbers Zombi decide to lighten the mood with XYZT which takes a light and more playful detour with some soaring Faith No More style keyboards and melodic bass whirls. Fifth Point Of The Penta is the shortest track on the album which starts slowly and features some truly fantastic drumming by Paterra who takes a prominent and starring role. The track also acts as an interlude as we hit the halfway mark of the album. Family Man is a dramatic and orchestral sounding piece and brings to the fore Zombi‘s Goblin influences and having toured with the Italian prog legends, its more than likely that their influence would have rubbed off on Zombi.
Mountain Ranges has an expansive feel and lives up to its name, rarely changing in tone or tempo and maintains a steady mid paced level consistency. First Flower reminds me of the Melvins, especially the drumming which betrays a heavy Dale Crover influence. Finally, the album concludes with the longest track on 2020, Thoughtforms. This resumes the 80s feel of opener Breakthrough & Conquer, thus bringing the album full circle. The distinctive synth intro and feel reminds me of Tangerine Dream. This is by far the slowest and mellowest track on the album and a perfect way to finish.
This was my first experience with Zombi and I was unsure what to expect. I’m pleased I decided to take the plunge on Shaman head honcho Lee’s recommendation as this was a fantastic effort that combined classy progressive 80s synth pop with heavier doom intonated numbers. Its cinematic scope and effortless changes in genres and tempos kept me enraptured throughout. Apparently, this is one of their most riff intensive efforts to date and is, I would argue, the perfect starting point to my Zombi listening experience.
Scribed by: Reza Mills