reviewed by Chris Matei
Vancouver garage-rock trio the Dead Zones have delivered a compact, fierce trio of tracks that groove as hard as they hit on their debut EP, following the release of the single “Back From the Void” in late 2016.
The group’s sound is tight and sharp, driven by meter-pushing guitars with a whole mouthful of cutting, trebly teeth, drums that spin on a dime from thrashing fervour to nu-disco propulsion, and grinding bass sound that shows evidence of a lengthy tutelage in the Jesse F. Keeler school of rock.
The association with Canadian garage/dance-punk titans DFA1979 is most noticeable on the opening cut “Hello Animal,” which displays an uncanny amount of the DNA found in that duo’s much lauded “Little Girl.” The chorus transition on “Animal” is a stellar moment, as is the whippy turnaround to a hip-shaking hi hat pattern.
The middle slice of this set swings from thrashy dance-punk to Franz Ferdinand-esque new wave revival rock with great effect. Though lacking the dynamic explosiveness from verse to chorus that made “Hello Animal” leap like its vicious namesake, “Hydra Love” is the deepest and most ambitious of the three tracks presented here. A late diversion into Desert Session style high-gain prog, not without its own share of nods to squalling classic rock licks, makes for a great balance between power and panache.
Finally, “Low” channels aughts-era grimy Brit rock: nasty squeezed guitars, trashy drums, and mean garage riffs abound, but the vibe hews closely to a kind of groovy doom: a slinking, leather jacketed switchblade cool factor that keeps the whole track worth nodding your head to.
The Dead Zones have enough energy packed into these three tracks to wake the dead. Equal parts grind and groove, it’s the odd record that hedges its bets just enough to make the most of all of its diverse influences.
Top Track: “Hydra Love”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)