[sic] Magazine

Zig Zags – They’ll Never Take Us Alive

LA-based thrash trio Zig Zags purposefully try and up the ante with each record made. “Every album we record, every song we write – has to be faster, harder and heavier – than the one before.” It’s right there in the press release. Where to go though when the EQ is already blown out, when the band’s trashy garage-metal already peaks in the red at every opportunity, and when the last tour left lead singer and guitarist Jed Maheu coughing up blood such was the strain on his wailing vocal?

Naming the new record They’ll Never Take Us Alive, their first on Riding Easy after annihilating albums on Castle Face and In The Red, is a good place to start. Digging deeper too into the cartoon violence of Megadeth and Slayer, it’s an album that comes good on its promise to make everything faster than everyone else. The feedback frenzy of “Killer Of Killers” is pedal-to-the-metal ugly, for example, and stand-out juggernaut “Fallout” obliterates all before it in turn with a hulking bass riff, thrilling tempo switch-ups and Maheu’s machine-gun trilling of consonants.

There’s variety here too though. For every smash-and-grab ode to Motörhead, there’s a snotty hardcore skate anthem. For every bout of heavy biker fuzz, there’s straight-up sludge of Sabbath-esque proportions – the wah-fuelled closer “God Sized” pitting a throaty grumble of chunky guitars against Maheu’s guttural roar at the extremes of this spectrum. There are surprises too. B-movie spoken samples litter the mix as if it were a post-apocalyptic vision of Hollywood, “Ms 45” perhaps indebted to the exploitation movie of the same name, and “Why I Carry A Knife” opening with a borrow from True Detective before exposing the poisonous underbelly of LA via drums played with a club and battle-jacket psych motifs.

Further out to leftfield and after a long intro of coruscated ambience, the destructive “Nothing To Do” is a yelping noise-punk missive owing nothing at all to speeding guitars. Earlier, “No Way Out” closes with a parade of patriotic brass while the crunching title track deploys a hard-scanning synth. Even total rippers like “The Shout” have the potential to break down into slow-motion fury. Truth be told these are moments rather than themes though, and almost without exception this is another smash-and-grab job from the get-go, the no-messing “Punk Fucking Metal” opening proceedings by going straight for the throat with serrated riffs and headbanging chug. Strap in, They’ll Never Take Us Alive is another hell of a ride.

Best track: “Fallout”

~They’ll Never Take Us Alive is released May 10th 2019 via Riding Easy Records.~