Released 16th August 2013 on MFZB Records
Punk/ Rap/ Metal
American punk-rock fusion band Zebrahead’s tenth album Call Your Friends is blaring, teenage call to apathy full of naive energy and growling, get-on-your-feet riffs, but I’ve got to say that the whole thing really didn’t interest me that much. I mean, the opening tracks Sirens and I’m Just Here For The Free Beer, while full of energy, are just so lacking in real force or power that it was hard to even take this band seriously and all their “I-don’t-give-a-fuck”s and their churning overdrive just sounded so middle-class and fashionable that any kind of punk sincerity was lost to me. How can anything this clean and constructed even dare to call itself punk? It really is just a slightly (yes, slightly) heavier version of the standard pop-rock music that I’ve been listening to for years.
It did all pick up a bit, however, when the album moved on to the hilariously titled With Friends Like These, Who Needs Herpes? and the band seemed to momentarily drop their faux-punk aesthetic in favour of a more Dragonforce styled power-rock track. Blistering guitar solos, overly complicated harmonics, million-mile-an-hour drums: all the markers were there to make Zebrahead an average sounding metal band instead of a pale mimicry of punk music, and I would have been fine with this, but, unfortunately, the album quickly dissolved again into the tired clichés of commercial rebellion that we were all so fond of in the nineties.
I mean, the title track of this record sounds much less like a manic Johnny Rotten or an angry Joe Strummer and much more like something a bunch of snotty, rich, white teens would listen to while sunning themselves by the pool and bitching about how their parents never listen to them. It’s all just so cringingly juvenile and is pervaded with such an entitled sense of rage that it only really succeeded in pissing me off for all the wrong reasons.
All of the posturing aside, however, Call Your Friends isn’t musically all that terrible. The rapping elements of tracks like Murder On The Airwaves and Public Enemy, for instance, were actually rather grabbing, and these would have been some pretty rocking tracks if the bad didn’t keep insisting on retreating back to their annoying chorus melodies, and there is some fun to be had with tracks like Born To Lose with it self-conscious nods to the Greenday teens and the white hip-hop craze of the nineties. Panic In The Streets also had a certain sense of dumb charm, but on the whole this record doesn’t really have all that much to offer. I mean by the time I got around to Automatic I felt as if this album had given me everything that it had in terms of musical variation, and whatever interest there was to be found in the band’s half-baked concept of rebellion dried up long before that. None of this is really helped by the fact that this album didn’t really give me anything new to begin with. Every track seems more or less stuck in the same rut, rehashing the daftness of nineties pop-punk and reusing Limp Bizkit style nu-metal riffs that I didn’t even like the first time around.
So all in all I would have to say that Zebrahead’s Call Your Friends really isn’t anything special. It has its moments of fun, but on the whole it’s a pretty tedious affair and it isn’t something that I would recommend to anyone. Perhaps it might be a good idea if you were just starting to ween your fourteen year old kids off that Veronicas album they’ve been listening to for the past nine months, but other than that I can’t really think of any good to reason to go out and purchase this record.
As a release of 2013 I can’t really say that it’s the most awful thing that’s been churned out this year, but neither can I say that it’s anything I think will stand the test of time. I mean, if you ask me in five years if I still remember who Zebrahead are, I think my answer would be no.
If you really must go out and get yourself a copy of Call Your Friends I would recommend searching out a copy of the Japanese release of this album which features three bonus tracks (Sex, Lies & Audiotape/ Battle Of The Bullshit/ Ready Steady Go). These tracks might actually be the three most interesting cuts on the record, and it is baffling to this writer why on earth they were ever dropped from the American, Australian, and European releases.
And here is the track With Friends Like These, Who Needs Herpes? One of the slightly better tracks from Zebrahead’s latest album.
- Zebrahead Unveil New Single (hangout.altsounds.com)
- Full Net Packs the Punk Rock Punch (riseandvibe.com)
- Punks don’t ask permission. Neither should you. (greig.cc)