Exploitation films are great aren’t they? Rather than sift through the latest load of Oscar baiting, nostalgia punting and tear jerking from Hollywood, its always refreshing to remember the cinematic oasis of tasteless, brainless fun unapologetically loaded with sexual objectification, rampant stereotyping and graphic violence that spawned movies like Cannibal Holocaust and Barbarella. This sentiment is clearly shared by the wonderfully named ZOMBIE MOTORS WRECKING YARD, as this grand cinematic tradition forms the basis and spirit of their music, spinning tales of sexploitation, zombies and sci-fi to bluesy stoner rock.
It’s a match made in heaven, and the band more than excel at conjuring b-movie images of badass bikers, gratuitously objectified babes and poorly realized monsters (usually zombies or aliens) meeting horrific ends drenched in far-too-red blood. The only problem is that they may have actually captured the grindhouse spirit too well, so their songs, whilst campy, over the top and filled with wonderfully silly lyrics, are not particularly resonant.
Their sound is a lively mix of Nawlins sludge, ZZ TOP, and CATHEDRAL, and would definitely be a lot of fun live. A lot of this energy can be credited to the flamboyant, sandpaper vocals, which belong to the hoarse, yelling, Matt Pike/CATHEDRAL-era Lee Dorrian school of singing. Singer Ran is clearly having a ball doing terrible things to his larynx and he throws himself into every song with a histrionic energy that is both charismatic and infectious. He provides most of the momentum on Grind the Grinder and Dead Smile, but the rest of the band struggle to match him, so that the songs lose some of the life when he’s not around. It’s only on the stomping opening of the hilariously titled Galactic Motherfucker that they begin to find more energy. However, their problems with tempo still become apparent on some of the other tracks, such as Love For Speed (the riding-on-your-harley-with-your-hot-girlfriend-down-the-freeway-and-into-the-sunset track) and the title track, which, whilst still entertaining, never quite gain the momentum they require, and the albums only real misfire Fight Fight Fight, a messily structured attempt at a fist pumping punk anthem in the first half before dropping into ELECTRIC WIZARD territory apropos of nothing.
That being said, despite some of their flaws there is still a lot to like about this band (most notably their lyrics, which match the often-hilarious B-movie dialogue perfectly), and the moments when everything comes together work really well. The best example is album highlight Roll n’ Burn, where the band slow down into more traditional blues rock to create an atmospheric and utterly badass headbanger that manages to retain the B-movie camp whilst absolutely seething with barely contained aggression. The shouts turn into raspy croons, the wonderful bluesy riffs and pick slides ooze with menace and anger, and every hit of the drum cuts through with such blade-like sharpness that it feels like listening to FIVE HORSE JOHNSON while someone’s punching you in the face.
Overall ZOMBIE MOTORS WRECKING YARD serves perfectly as a musical embodiment and celebration of grindhouse cinema. Their songs are campy, loaded with faux-grit and seem like they would be awesome in a live setting. The only “problem” is that they have actually done their job too well. Like grindhouse itself, the album, whilst certainly enjoyable, is not overly memorable, bar a few moments (Roll n’ Burn). However, if you’re looking for a fun, brainless way to pass time or entertain your stoner friends during a night in, or even just a soundtrack to speed down a motorway to, then this album is perfect.
Supersonic Rock n Roll is out now via Napalm Records.
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