Züül
To the Frontlines

My expectations couldn’t be any higher for an album, considering that Züüls Out of Time was one of my favorite albums of the year, if not the 21st Century. The Carbondale, IL group did everything right; this was NWOBHM inspired on multiple fronts, but with all those unexplainable “cult heavy metal” elements that makes a good album bad to the bone and cool as hell. Specifically, it had the riffs, the drive, the hooks, and genuine honesty that emanates from a group of musicians playing with 100 percent heart and soul. Granted, my excitement over the harnessing of so much power and the measure exploitation of so many of metal’s most endearing traits may have caused some objectivity leakage. Hey, it happens and it’s ok in small doses.

So of course it was going to take more than a few spins of To the Frontlines to make a conclusive decision to its worth as an album with staying power. Interestingly enough, initial spins had me saying “yep, this is Züülalright,” which by itself would have been enough to dub it a mandatory purchase. But as the nostalgia curse wore off it became more and more apparent that To the Frontlines is a superior album, mainly because it is a more consistent one from front to back. Even better is that the new album takes everything that made Out of Time great and adds just enough diversity and a whole lot of consistency to make it worthy of being called an improvement.

Along with the same recording warmth and the indefinable feeling one gets from an album when it just “feels right,” come a slew of the kind of powerful ‘n classy head-banging anthems that mad Out of Time such a killer. It’s all about the galloping rhythms, the twin leads, the punch, and hooks on this sucker! Most representative are “Show No Mercy,” “Smoldering Nights” (the soloing here is just plain incendiary), and the battlefield glory and blood ‘n guts metal of what has become my favorite cut, “Skullsplitter,” which in some ways recalls the right stuff that made Iron Maiden’s “The Trooper” so magnificent. “Guillotine” and “In the Cellar” are knockouts as well, but what makes “Heavy Lover” another highlight are the 70’s hard rock vibes and an arrangement that at times is like a heavy metal filtering of the blazes set by everyone from Ram Jam to Pat Travers (not blatant, but it’s in there).

What ends up setting To the Frontlines most apart from its predecessor is the closing trio of tunes, starting with a damn fine instrumental called “Of the Fallen.” Even more so are the twin towers that follow: “Bounty Land” and “Waste of Time,” which clock in at a just-epic-enough eight and seven minutes, respectively. The former sports a mildly majestic mid-tempo gallop before the hammer is brought down with the Thor-like force. A little dreaminess coexists nicely with the higher voltage moments on “Bountyland,” the song also ramping up with glorious heavy metal power toward the end.

All of this boils down to To the Frontlines being a phenomenal album made by one of America’s best heavy metal bands. In the end, when taken as whole, I’d have to give it the nod over Out of Time. What is most needed is for Züül to achieve the widespread notoriety it so justly deserves. Do your part: buy the album and spread the word. Züül rules! It’s as simple as that.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Scott Alisoglu
March 25th, 2013

Comments

  1. Commented by: gabaghoul

    GREAT classic metal album


  2. Commented by: Noch

    I did give this one a fair shake and I had expectations about as high; that being said, I’m still gonna keep on going back to ”Out of Time” rather than this new one. I guess it might take a couple listens to fully sink in, but it didn’t sit quite right with me from front to back as much as OoT did. I still find it fucking badass that these guys get people talkin’ as much, they’re a cool band I often namedrop when hearing sweet NWOBHM I happen to dig a lot. Hope I’ll get a chance to catch these guys live at one point, might see the new tunes in a different light in that context.


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