[sic] Magazine

Emperor Zero – Nights Of The Hunter EP

Even in exile, Emperor Zero never went away. Manchester-based for a string of smart singles that drew comparison with Gang of Four and Mark E. Smith (whose literary work the post-punk/noise band clearly regard as unfinished), lead singer Matthew Boswell now calls Cardiff home, and during the pandemic lockdowns, he revisited the unreleased parts of the back catalogue, adding vocals, guitars, and percussion. The spectacular five tracks of the Nights Of The Hunter EP is the result, a timely taster ahead of a debut album, The Virgin Mary Is The Queen Of Poland, due later in the year.

Originally recorded during nocturnal sessions in the Bunker – a notorious studio and venue in Salford that was the headquarters of the independent label SWAYS and which has since mutated into an equally infamous nightclub, the White Hotel – Nights Of The Hunter, despite its remixing and remastering, captures the atmosphere of long Bunker nights, coruscating reverb, crunching guitars and industrial rhythms stripping the rust from the shutters.

The patina remains however, lo-fi anti-production a weapon in Emperor Zero’s hands, Boswell a pained, sinewy shaman striving for utopia against a backdrop of scorched-earth static. Angry-wasp distortion and before-it-was-everywhere sprechgesang stalk the land invoking the horrors of the Pol Pot regime, blown-out guitars going full basement jam-band alongside perverse lifts from Hitler’s speeches. Blossoming in adversity, beautiful Jesus & Mary Chain melodies square off against the solemnity of the Old Testament, guitars soaring poetically from the squalor in an inevitable nod to Joy Division. With dawn still a long way off, it’s time to give yourself to the night.

Best track: “Absalom”

~Nights Of The Hunter is out digitally now and will be released on cassette by Ramber Records April 7th 2023.~