Z Drops “Calamity” LP

“The Song of I” opens with a booming beat, a gentle-but-funky guitar riff and more fantastic effects. The manipulation of the guitar, along with the glitchy drum beat, is part of what instantly makes Z distinguishable from all of the other alternative bands out there. I love the creepy vocal work. I’d say it reminds me of Trent Reznor, but I think it’s worth giving this group credit for their originality; they don’t really sound like anyone. There are some raging electric power chords at points, and the cacophony of vocals in the choruses are so euphoric. The loud-quiet dynamic works so well on this track and I was hoping to hear more of this as the album progressed.

Formed back in 2018, Z is a noise-rock/grunge band that doesn’t pull any punches. On Calamity, the intro track makes it abundantly clear that this is not a band which wishes to blend in with a saturated ocean of similar rock bands. “Me Knowing Tomorrow” is driven by vibrant, distorted, chaotic instrumentation. There are fractured, disturbed and amazing vocals. Most of the singing is a haunted whisper. The guitar is funky and delicious, but it’s the production that blows me away; there is some fantastic note warping that gives the music a glitchy, electronic feel, without abandoning its undercurrent of noise-rock carnage. The electronic beat is stark and catchy, too.

I could say so much about every single song on this track, but I’ll try not to ruin the overall experience or turn this review into an essay. “Void Prince” has an infectious riff and energetic drumming. There are some scorching guitars throughout the song. “Mega Bytes” offers some wonderful whirring sounds and a catchy chorus. “No Likes” blew my face off, proving that Z hadn’t quite hit 10 on the noise scale until that moment. It has such pace and raw energy. I thought the drumming was absolutely insane. This is the perfectly example of noise-rock that somehow manages to turn brutal sound into music. It definitely sounds like more than just a cluster of noises.

“Nemesis” was a beautiful track with tender vocals and a soothingly-gentle chord progression on a clean electric guitar. Of course, the choruses were manic; distorted guitars, screeching effects and screaming vocals burst onto the scene. Z proves that they can nail the loud-quiet dynamic in their music. It’s not all about noise for the sake of noise. They also prove this on “Winning,” which is driven by stunning piano and the most fragile singing on the album. And yet, it’s still a deeply eerie track. On this album, Z don’t lose their dark aesthetic for a single second.

What a band. The combination of delicate singing and chaotic instrumentation reminds me of another alternative band, Autolux. I’d definitely recommend that Z give them a listen to see what I’m talking about. But they have a perfectly unique sound already, so I’m certainly not saying they need to take cues from any other artist. I thoroughly enjoyed this album.

Zachary Rush