Zig Zags: Strange Masters [Album Review]

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Zig Zags
Strange Masters
RidingEasy Records [2024]

Album Overview: Zig Zags, a staple in the Los Angeles music scene, have built a strong reputation since their inception. Known for their energetic performances and relentless touring, the band has faced changes over the years, including lineup shifts and breaks from the road. After 2019’s They’ll Never Take Us Alive, the band took a small break that, with the help of a pandemic, was much longer. They also lost their drummer, which was almost enough to end the group. However, when Jeff Murray, drummer from LA rippers The Shrine, joined the Zig Zags, the band got back on course. With new material already in the works, Strange Masters features nine standout tracks re-recorded from Zig Zags’ past repertoire along with a cover of Agent Orange’s “Bloodstains.” Produced by John Dwyer of Thee Oh Sees, this album revisits and revitalizes their older material with new venom and an even harder edge, delivering a powerful collection that showcases their enduring appeal. It gathers songs from their previous three full-length albums and several 7″ releases, all of them boosted with a metal IV.

Musical Style: Zig Zags’ sound blends elements of punk, metal, and hard rock, characterized by heavy riffs, fast-paced rhythms, and raw, unfiltered energy. Their music pays homage to the aggressive and rebellious spirit of classic punk and metal bands. Strange Masters highlights this as it takes their punk metal to another level.

Evolution of Sound: Zig Zags have continually honed their craft, refining their musical approach and incorporating new influences with each release. This album captures the essence of their earlier work while benefiting from the skills and experience gained throughout their career. The addition of Jeff Murray on drums brings a fresh dynamic to their established sound, and Dwyer’s production helps them lose control. Every track here hits much harder than its original.

Artists with Similar Fire: Zig Zags hit you with a heavy edge, so early Metallica comes to mind, along with elements of The Shrine, Thee Oh Sees, Black Flag, and OFF!. These bands share common ground in their high-energy performances and dedication to raw, powerful rock music that often crosses into the metal side of the road.

Pivotal Tracks: “Fallout” has such a heavy riff that I kept hitting replay as the song just looms over you. The cover of Agent Orange’s “Bloodstains” stands out as a notable highlight, bringing a new edge to the punk anthem. Going back to the beginning is also cool, as the opener “Scavenger” dates back to 2012 from a Mexican Summer 7″. The song truly benefits from this muscle enhancement treatment.

Lyrical Strength: The lyrics reflect Zig Zags’ gritty, no-nonsense approach, tackling themes of rebellion, angst, and the darker aspects of life. Their straightforward and impactful writing style adds depth to their hard-hitting sound.

Zig Zags (2014)

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Christopher Anthony
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