Album: Unwanted ll Unloved – EP
There is a common trait among those who succeed in their endeavors—big or small, meaningful or mundane: they all give it everything they have. They leave no room for extra effort, nor do they let up when the going gets tough. They work their hands to the bone and bleed as much as they sweat to achieve the absolute best final product they can. They are zealots—and for that reason, the murderous Minnesota nu-metal quartet have well earned their name. Imagine a train-wreck between Yüth Forever’s angst-ridden lyrics and Sworn In’s jagged, unpredictable instrumentation—finished with a bizarre twist of catchiness. Zealot’s Unwanted ll Unlovedis a passionate display of powerful, heavy-handed hardcore and catchy, crunchy nu-metal that doesn’t skimp on intensity or aggression—even while it finds itself somewhat short on innovation.
Bursting forth from subtle—albeit depressive—beginnings, Unwanted ll Unloved is a rip-roaring tidal wave of dark, dissonant energy that doesn’t relent until the listener is buried beneath six feet of sinister brutality. After the harrowing introduction, “Unwanted,” Zealot bounce like a wrecking ball coated in rubber that’s let off its chain with the percussive beginning to “Drained.” Half groove and half beatdown, the drumming throughout “Drained,” and indeed the duration of the EP, brilliantly strides the tightrope between brute force aggression and subtle, sneaky bounce. With sections of scathing blast beats and portions of looming, explosive tom patterns, “Drained” and “Open Doors” are two exceptional examples of Zealot’s zany drumming. However, the percussion’s relative bounciness is nothing compared to the writhing groove pouring forth from the band’s bassist. “Butcher Me” is a bold example of deep, driving bass tones that distinguish themselves brilliantly from the gritty guitar and crashing percussion in a manner few heavy bands do. In this manner, the bass works excellently with the band’s guitar to make sure each track feels full-bodied and ferocious. Where deep chugs and gritty grooves fight in all-out war against panic chords, pick scrapes and harmonics, the bass rumbles alongside, giving extra oomph to Zealot’s dynamic. “Open Doors” is an excellent example—with eerie high-strung shrieks from the guitar blending with rumbling low thunks from the band’s outspoken bass.
Where the band have solid instrumentation, they are careful not to dissuade the listener with an equally talented and prominent vocal element. Spewing lyrics above the genre’s standard with detailed rhyme schemes and vivid imagery, Zealot’s vocal element brilliantly fits their instrumentation: bold, brash and catchy. Where the band’s vocalist may not win extra points for an incredibly range, he is more than able to hit grisly lows and scratchy highs while relying on a hoarse, hefty mid-range yell. Unwanted ll Unloved may not show off Zealot’s vocal range—but it does show the band’s vocalist’s exceptional patterning and vocal candor, as “Butcher Me” and “Long Forgotten” see him screaming circles around a majority of the genre’s frontmen, effortlessly chanting like he is delivering a depressive sermon to summon the dark lord.
Where Zealot don’t do anything wrongon Unwanted ll Unloved, they do little to truly capture the listener’s interest, or differentiate themselves from a figurative army of band’s playing similar styles of hardcore-gone-nu-metal. The band’s instrumentation is strong, but not stellar—and while their vocalist is a brilliant lyricist and possess exceptional stamina, he doesn’t redeem the band’s release from complete monotony. Were it not for the eerie introduction and moments throughout “Butcher Me, “Unloved” and “Open Doors,” the band’s release could feel like one drawn out track as opposed to a series of individual tracks. Whether this is a remarkable negative is a matter of personal taste, but the fact remains that a majority of each track on Unwanted ll Unloved follows a predictable structure that seems to border on sounding copy-and-pasted—to a point where if it weren’t for superior lyricism, the listener might not have a reason to listen to more than one or two tracks at any given time.
While it may meet with a certain lack-of-impact, there is no questioning that Zealot have truly given their all on Unwanted ll Unloved. Defined by moments of unfathomable depression and ultra-dissonant devastation, the band’s sophomore EP is a solid effort that diehard fans of the genre will surely find solace in.
For Fans Of: Yüth Forever, Sworn In, Desolate, Victims
By: Connor Welsh