Zombi must be the Relapse band with the least connection to extreme music. Even Brian Posehn's live standup comedy album had Scott Ian and John Tempesta on it. And yet I'm glad that this Pittsburghian instrumental prog duo's early-King-Crimon-meets-70s-Italian-horror-soundtrack shtick is getting out there, because kids these days, they don't know the meaning of epic. The title track, with that sick mellotron and melted guitar tone straight out of Robert Fripp's In the Court of the Crimson King-era tab book? That's like dying-god epic. "Earthly Powers" rocks a whole bunch of sweet oscillating synth/guitar lines, the likes of which Return to Forever might have envied during their 'fro years. 10 minutes of space-traveling funk and square-wave ostinatos? Fuck Isis, THAT is epic.
Buy Spirit Animal:Relapse
I skipped out on Zombi's opening slot of a Don Caballero show in 2006 back because I was convinced that they didn't mean it, and there's nothing worse than a band that doesn't mean it, especially in metal circles. I feel differently now. Of course Steve Moore and A.E. Paterra see the silliness of their hopelessly dated analog synths -- is it possible to feature an elephant running through a nebula on your album cover without being self-aware? But at base, Zombi are reverential towards their source material and fucking excellent composers (for surely these are pieces, not songs), which is why Spirit Animal's tracks can stretch out past 17 minutes and keep my interest, without a single vocal. Underneath it all is Paterra's airtight drumming. That guy knows how to burrow deep into a 7/8 groove without showboating. When I have a kid, Zombi will play at his Bar Mitzvah, and if he complains I'll tell him to shut up. He'll thank me some day.