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Asylum City Zoo – Vol 1

Asylum City Zoo
Vol 1
by Oli Gonzalez at 16 May 2022, 6:00 AM

ASYLUM CITY ZOO are a heavy metal quartet that have been around the block for a while in the North West of England, and have grown a significant following within that region. Their latest EP titled “Vol 1” has been eagerly awaited and promises to demonstrate evolution and progression for the band.

A rather chilling and spooky guitar arpeggio opens up the first song of the EP, “Box”. This is also a song that the band have released a new official video for! Musically, it represents a lot of the components you would expect from the band, based on their previous releases. The crushing grooves and in your face guitar tones! I particularly enjoyed the contrast between Mark and Rishi’s vocal melodies. The chorus is easy to become invested in and clearly a hook for this song. I noticed the drums seem to have been recorded to a high standard, with some very crisp and sharp fills. I hope the engineer got a nice tip! Overall, a solid start to the EP and certainly representing evolution and a somewhat progressive element.

The band have released slower almost ballad-like songs before, similar to the next track “Carved Your Name”. On the surface, it has aesthetically pleasing melodies from the verse, and a more in your face heavier chorus. Again, both vocalists work in tandem, with Rishi providing higher pitch shrieks and Mark more soothing and calmer. But delve deeper, and you realise this song is touching on a very sensitive subject, that of suicide. I can hear the very subtle use of violins and other synths in the back to help create this mood and emotion. Again, there’s no obvious song structure here which helps to bring that progressive element to the band.

ASYLUM CITY ZOO may not be the easiest band to put into a sub-genre. They’ve been described as groove metal, and “Complicated” definitely has the grooves and crushing rhythms in spades. I particularly enjoyed Mark’s guttural, raspy TOM WAITS style vocal in the verses. Definitely adding something unique as compared to their earlier work. The guitar solo truly is sublime, soaring sharp and bright above the rest of the mix! Another hook and selling point in this song. This is yet another song that is deceptively complex in structure. No simple verse-chorus song pattern. Which is fantastic. Who likes cookie-cutter copy and paste songs?

I was starting to wonder if the guitars could maybe be higher in the mix and little thicker. Then I listened to “One More Last Time”. That intro will definitely wake you up in the morning! Especially with a guitar tone that sharp and powerful! This song also features a powerful vocal tandem from Rishi and Mark. Although I do wonder if the more soothing clean vocals in the verses match the intensity and speed of the instrumentation, and may feel a little out of place. A more harsh, raspier growl would be better suited here I believe. Still, that’s a small chink in what is otherwise a solid EP.
Production wise, I think there is definitely a lot to admire. That being said, I can’t quite put my finger on it, but something’s missing. A backing track? An additional guitar layer? Just something to fill the subtle void.

Overall, this is a very strong EP that certainly represents evolution for the band, as they promised. When’s volume two coming out?

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 8
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Box
2. Carved Your Name
3. Complicated
4. One More Last Time
Lineup:
Baz - Drums
Rishi – Guitar.Backing vocals
Mark – Guitar/Lead Vocals
Nick - Bass
Record Label: Independent
     


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