Sunday, 11 March 2018

Album: Zombie Picnic - Rise of a New Ideology

Zombie Picnic - Rise of a New Ideology

Info: After their 2016 debut album 'A Suburb of Earth', Zombie Picnic are back with their sophomore album, 'Rise of a New Ideology', released on their own label Golden Shred Records and distributed by UK-based progressive music specialists Burning Shed. Zombie Picnic is a four-piece, prog/post-rock instrumental band from Limerick, Ireland. Formed in the summer of 2012 by Jim Griffin (guitar), Dave Tobin (guitar), Brian Fitzgerald (bass) and Brendan Miller (drums).

With six tracks across over 36 minutes, Limerick experimental prog-rock act Zombie Picnic subtly yet powerfully get their message and theme across through sampling and song titles on second album Rise of a New Ideology. Each track title is a poignant moment for pause on very topical issues, beginning with 'Democracy Cannot Survive', the percussion and bass recall Mogwai, but the guitars are very distant to the Glasgow post-rock and ambient acts style. It's right up the alley of 70's bluesy prog-rock, Alan Parsons Project meets David Gilmour's elongated solos circa Meddle.

'They See Science as Dangerous' presumably takes a poke at the hysteria surrounding mistrust of government when it comes to healthcare, scepticism is healthy (excuse the pun) but anecdotal stories seem to wash away evidence in the modern era, think of the anti-vax movement and fundamentalist organisations (particularly in the U.S.). The guitar and drumming here needles right down the centre of my blues-rock nervous system, it's immense, if that bass got any thicker it would probably snap too, there is some outrageously good musicianship at play here already. 

'DEFCON' (defence readiness condition) could be interpreted as us reaching the zenith of implosion in the 21st century. The struggle for decency and an egalitarian society is as difficult now as it was in 18th century France, everything is under attack, and this theme ties into earlier track titles. What's interesting here is that Zombie Picnic mirror this chaos and frustration in their music, it's marauding, desperate and anarchic. The guitar-playing sounds like the backdrop to the common nightmare of fleeing something unseen, a lack of control and creeping fear, this is not an easy thing to reflect without lyrics, which makes it all the more impressive.

After a brief moment of respite on 'Life-Support Systems' (not that one was needed, I'm really happy thus far), you wonder are Zombie Picnic throwing us a turtle dove of hope in the second half of the album with 'See Beyond', the title hints at this. Don't drown in helplessness, shift changes are cyclical, this one too will end. The sample recalls an early mindfulness tape from the past before the term had entered our lexicon. The balance tips slightly in favour of hope over doom, without sounding too, well, hysterical! There's some wonderful rock riffage at the 2:30 mark as well which reminds me of Joe Walsh's The James Gang, and it's killer.

The band give you a thunderous slap in the face to close out the album via 'Anger in Storage (Denial Will Follow)', showing that it's not all meandering ambient movements. After the intro we drop down to a delicate guitar occupying a thin amount of space between snare and bass, it's a little bit sinister, and rightly so, a reminder of what this album is all about, comfort and apathy creates the conditions we exist in. Then bang, a second slap at 2:19, your face is as pink and purple as their album cover at this stage. Are they trying to startle you out of your living, breathing yet dead coma? Perhaps. 

I know I always say I hate being parochial because good music should traverse simplistic ideas of borders and geography, but I'm very proud that an Irish band has made an album like this. A proper concept album which achieves its entire message without any of the members of the band uttering a single word. I think of Public Service Broadcasting a bit here, who have made great albums which I adore on historical themes such as the race to the moon, working class annihilation in the Welsh coal-mining community etc., but the difference is that Zombie Picnic don't spell it out for the listener, they guide you, and you have to get out of your comfort zone and figure it out for yourself. One of the best Irish albums of the year all across the board.

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1 comment:

  1. Awesome review, thanks Remy!!! We've still got a few vinyl copies left at bandcamp if people would like to check it out! :-)