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Zacky Sickness – The Struggles of an Unknown Musician

Zacky Sickness
The Struggles of an Unknown Musician
by Mark Machlay at 03 March 2021, 6:56 AM

Zakk Settergreen, going by the stage name Zacky Sickness, began his rock ‘n’ roll front man dreams, as most do, after attending his first heavy metal music festival. Having few resources at the time to hone his skills, he sang along to hits on the video game “Rock Band” back in 2010 at the age of 17. Soon after, he formed a pop punk cover band with his friends called MY FRIEND Z, covering songs from GREEN DAY, BLINK-182, and The Ramones. The band was short-lived lasting only a year and two shows, but Zakk was convinced to take things more seriously. Going off to college in September 2011 gave Zakk a wider net to draw talent, posting an ad on the college’s craigslist page, and immediately got a response from Jered Kappenman. The two formed BLACK HARE who toured all over the west coast for 6 years under various line-ups – save the two founders – gaining attention in their hometown of Eugene and getting to play alongside such artists as ALIEN ANT FARM, HED P.E., and POWERMAN 5000.

Unfortunately, in March 2018, Zakk had to make to the difficult decision to move away from Eugene, leaving BLACK HARE at least for now. Zakk certainly wasn’t done making music, though and got to work on a solo record, eventually releasing “Songs of the Black Sheep” in January 2019 featuring a cover of “Breed” by NIRVANA and “I Don’t Know” by OZZY OSBOURNE. After checking out a few of the tracks, it’s a bit of a rough listen with awful guitar distortion tone, buried vocals and just generally garage band level production value. But, what’s clear is that Zakk has passion and talent. It would serve as a stepping stone to something greater for the young, budding solo musician. His second album “Stonebreaker” would be his first pairing up with Jacob Lizotte and it elevated Zakk’s songs to a whole new level going in a much heavier direction.

Now comes “The Struggles of an Unknown Musician”, the third full-length release from Zacky Sickness and second with Jacob Lizotte handling all the instruments and production. A smaller leap but still seemingly an evolution, this album sees a bigger expansion into other genres of rock and metal while “Stonebreaker” seemed to be pure heavy metal with an emphasis on the heavy. The concept album starts with the rather ominous spoken word track “The Optimistic Beginning” laying out the melodramatic oeuvre that pervades the albums concept. It outlines a fairly common frustration that struggling musicians have, contemplating suicide after struggling to achieve success and not finding it. It should be noted, Zacky insists that the character is fictional, though it seems somewhat based on his own life. Then we jump into an excellent cover of the CHEAP TRICK track “Hello There” to illustrate the musician beginning with a cover band before creating their own work. Channeling NIRVANA next on “What Keeps Me Bleeding” it can be a little repetitive with the main riff hammered into your head a bit much. But the majority of the songs features some string orchestration and a much stronger vocal performance and vocal layering. He sounds a bit M. Shadows of AVENGED SEVENFOLD on “Words That Cut Like Sand”, a bit Chester Bennington of LINKIN PARK on “Just Another Broken Dream”, and a bit punkish – almost like SUM 41 – on “Crack One Open”. The style varies wildly from nu-metal, metalcore, to even power metal at times, making no individual song really standout but definitely showing bravery and, as I said, more evolution for a growing artist. Definitely check this out if you’re looking for a good old modern rock and metal fix with just the right amount of epic metal flourish thrown in for variety.

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

4 Star Rating

1. The Optimistic Beginning
2. Hello There
3. What Keeps Me Bleeding
4. Tear Them Down
5. A Glimpse in an Endless Sea
6. Words That Cut Like a Sword
7. Crack One Open
8. Cycle of Misery
9. The Beast I Am
10. Just Another Broken Dream
11. The Final Tragedy
Zacky “Sickness” Settergren – Lead Vocals
Jacob Lizotte – All Instrumentals and Production
Record Label: Independent


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