Album Review: ZOMBIE EATING HORSE The Worst of Us
It's funny how you don't really hear the term 'New Wave of American Heavy Metal' tossed around anymore. The musical output around the turn of the century revealed an identity crisis in the metal community where such a broad and open-ended phrase such as NWOAHM perfectly demonstrated how the variety of subgenres emerging were cross-breeding into one homogeneous movement. The ingredients of alternative, groove, industrial, nü-metal, metalcore, and more could all be found amongst the bands within the mid 90's to early 2000's.
Today, there's a similar phenomenon in that many groups belong to a melting pot of metalcore, deathcore, djent, and the reemergence of nü-metal. It's as if there should be a "New New Wave of American Heavy Metal" to contain all the modern bands that don't exactly belong to a specific subgenre. Regardless, the bottom line is as time passes, it will be increasingly impossible to simply label a band with a single term considering there are so many subgenres and styles that have come before and inevitably have influenced either them directly or indirectly.
In the case of Zombie Eating Horse, they very much represent that circumstance of being undefinable. In their recent sophomore LP, The Worst of Us, one can see the influence of a multitude of styles including the modern scene of metalcore and deathcore as well as NWOAHM's alternative, nü, and groove metal present. While it is difficult to exclusively define Zombie Eating Horse—due to their inclusion of many subgenres within their music—the band successfully portrays a succinct musical identity that is both rooted in the nostalgia of the NWOAHM movement and contemporary metalcore and deathcore.
Regarding the songs that sway on the mid-90's/early 2000's throwback side, opener "No Safe Word" conveys a more sinister Lamb of God sound. The title track also possesses similarities to groove pioneers Pantera and nü-metal fusion act Mudvayne. Most of all though, "Z Rex" has a classic, gut-wrenching riff and is perhaps the most gripping on the entire LP. The short, but sweet simplicity allows for a catchy single and harbors back to the writing styles of Roots-era Sepultura or early Soulfly.
On the flip side, there are plenty of pieces on The Worst of Us that are congruent with the extremes of the modern core scene. For example, a rapid Converge-like mathcore execution is revealed on "Stabbed in the Neck." As for the deathcore influences, I could see comparisons to perhaps Carnifex or Despised Icon on "Abort Yourself" and "Whole to Hole," which features Edgar Orellana of deathcore Compton act Blood for our Brothers. Although these tracks go hard, I wish there were more moments where the lead guitar took charge. Moments on the title track, "Faction," and "Asking for a Friend" showcase how impactful this group can potentially sound when a lead guitar rips through a pummeling groove.
Overall, The Worst of Us is a damn enjoyable album for both fans of old-school and new metal. Admittedly, some tracks are a bit 'in one ear and out the other' on the memorable scale, but are nonetheless redeemed through crushingly heavy riffs, grooves, and growls. Alternatively, there are some songs like "$3 and a 40Oz" that are quite noteworthy for their catchiness. In the end, Zombie Eating Horse successfully blend the styles of the past with the present, which in theory would seem like a step backward, but the result is quite tasteful and allows for a diverse and satisfying listen.