Review: Zombi ‘Liquid Crystal’ EP

For those new to the Zombi world, they’re a duo made up of Steve Moore on bass/synthesizers, A.E. Paterra on drums, and originate from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The band has undertaken many tours with the likes of These Arms Are Snakes, Daughters, Red Sparowes, Orthrelm, Don Caballero and the legendary Goblin (who are one of the band’s major influences).

Zombi ‘Liquid Crystal’

Zombi have always featured amazing artwork and the cover to Liquid Crystal by Austin, Texas based artist Curt Gettman, is no exception. The cover features stingrays gliding through the sky and while this may look graceful and serene, bare in mind a stingray caused the death of Australian conservationist/wildlife expert Steve Irwin (aka The Crocodile Hunter). To employ a bad pun, this would leave the door open for the music to have a sting in its tail. The artwork also brought to mind the 1986 film Flight of the Navigator with the top down view of the clouds, which is a nod to the band’s 80s futuristic sound.

Mangler is an atmospheric almost hypnotic opener that threatens to erupt at the drop of a hat. The very fact that it doesn’t is down to the band’s skill, they manage the tension to brilliant effect leaving you on tenterhooks throughout. I have a feeling that were this track released in 2016, Danish director Nicholas Winding Refn would have been ringing the band up to use it for his film The Neon Demon.

Chant employs more of an ominous darker tone in contrast, yet again featuring the same use of repetition to help build the tension. It would suit the part of a film where the protagonist is getting prepared for a particularly dramatic final scene in which they have nothing left to lose. In this respect, one is reminded of Tangerine Dream’s score from Michael Mann’s underrated Thief. What was also impressive was how heavy it sounded without the use of any type of Guitar distortion. So If you were under the illusion that Synth Music was in any way wimpy, think again!

Following 2020 was never going to be easy but Zombi have achieved it with a release where no note is wasted…

Next is Liquid Crystal, the shortest track on the EP that starts in usual Zombi fashion, but soon takes you off guard with some killer David Gilmour style soloing. This helps elevate the track into epic prog territory, yet at the same time is so compact and well disciplined. It never threatens to spill over into mindless self-indulgence. Had prog-rock evolved in this direction then it might not have been so unceremoniously discarded by the punk revolution. Majestic.

At a whopping 11:18 Turning Points is the longest track on Liquid Crystal and very much in the vein of the aforementioned Goblin, (Dawn of the Dead era in particular). There is an eerie, uneasy feel present, as if round the next corner a zombie is getting ready to pounce. The band are superb at giving one a sense of overwhelming dread. I have no idea who provides guitar on the EP, but once again its beautiful soaring tones come to the fore with closing track Black Forest. Again comparisons can be drawn to Dave Gilmour, but traces of Buckethead are present too (ala the Population Override album). In all honesty it doesn’t really matter, the playing is exquisite and gels wonderfully with the synths and drums, concluding the EP just as it started, on a high.

Following 2020 was never going to be easy but Zombi have achieved it with a release where no note is wasted and where one is left transfixed by the dazzling musical display.

Label: Relapse Records
Band Links: Facebook | Bandcamp | Twitter | Instagram

Scribed by: Reza Mills