The 1990’s was a gold-mine for music. Seemingly everything was booming and had a place in the mainstream audience’s mind — something that is very different than what we have experienced for many years. Seriously, really think about it: country was of course still big in the 90’s, hip-hop was huge, grunge was big, and of course, nu metal was alive and thriving towards the end of the 1990’s.
Of those, perhaps there is no genre more disparaged that nu metal. Even at the time, despite it’s massive commercial success, critical acclaim was few and far between. Even when bands like Limp Bizkit and Korn were selling out massive tours with big records, some critics were still not convinced that it would be sustainable. Korn has certainly crushed that perception, as many of their peers have as well. It’s a genre that has shapeshifted with the times, but even all the same, not many new nu-metal bands have surfaced and pushed through to critical and commercial success.
As someone that is personally a legitimate fan of the genre, I’m always pleasantly surprised when a new band pops up with the sound that I grew up often listening to — especially when they’re practically in my by backyard.
That’s where Columbus, Ohio’s Zonezero comes in. The band formed in early-2017, but weren’t one that I discovered until just a month ago myself when I heard their single, “Losing My Grip.” So when it was announced that they were releasing a new EP, Strychnine Dream, on January 24th, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.
After sitting with the record for a little over a week, I’m thrilled to be writing that, if you are an avid fan of the nu-metal genre, Zonezero will be one that’s right up your alley as well. It’s pertinent to to explain that the band isn’t dropping nu-metal tracks in the vein of the aforementioned Korn and Limp Bizkit; instead, think of bands like Chevelle, Cold, and early-Breaking Benjamin.
Strychnine Dream opens with “Losing My Grip” and is followed by “All In Your Head,” and I’m not sure there was a better 1-2 punch for the EP. It’s a great two-track introduction that shows you everything Zonezero is capable of doing. You’ve got two tracks that set the toner right off the bet, laying out their plan for heavy instrumentation, while not sacrificing the songwriting nor need for a catchy chorus to wrap it all up neatly and securely.
There’s a certain layer of heaviness to Zonezero, as evident in the screamed verses of “All In Your Head,” although it runs deeper than that. There aren’t many moments like those verses throughout the rest of Strychnine Dream, instead they’re heavy in the way that always helped nu metal stick out amongst other variations of metal. It’s the tuning of the guitars to thumping bass lines to the breakdown in “Be Like Me.” Even when they take it down a notch on album closer “Passerby” — a track that’s notably slower than others, but still manages to be a step above the “mid-tempo” categorization — there manages to be moments that show their desire to be heavy within the genre.
There’s not a moment where you feel like you’re getting anything less than the best that Zonezero have to offer. Throughout the six tracks on Strychnine Dream you are taken upon a journey that is exciting and energetic, giving life to a genre that is desperate for young bands to carry it forward. Zonezero is just starting their career, but through one EP, there’s an undeniable promise that is worthy of your attention.
Strychnine Dream from Zonezero will be released on January 24th, and you can pre-order your copy here.