Out Of Time
posted on 9/2010 By:
Zuul is denim and leather, white high-tops and thigh-tied bandanas. This nostalgic quintet calls Carbondale home, but their debut LP, Out of Time makes the more accurate reference to where they live: on the waning edge of NWOBHM’s Golden Era, somewhere between Iron Maiden and Diamond Head. And they’ve got most of what it takes to pull off the effective backward glance at metal’s uninhibited early adolescence.
It’s fast and reckless and dirty and a little bit bawdy. In essence, it’s cramming yourself into a buddy’s hot rod with too many of your knucklehead friends and cruising the summer nights with no agenda but to get ripped and generally make asses of yourselves, hoping that somebody somewhere will see how incredibly fucking cool you are since, after all, you’re cranking incredibly fucking cool heavy metal. This is the album’s strength, as rippin riffs and ganged choruses give you exactly what you’re looking for if you’re a metalhead with an old soul, literally or figuratively.
The worst part about running wild with the boys back in the day was that the best parts of those nights happened sporadically; spikes of awesomeness against a background of relative ennui. Out of Time does a pretty good job of nailing that aspect, as well. Too many songs here spend too much time unnecessarily constrained by a narrow tonal range. Where all that spiffy riffing ought to be ramping things up, it unwittingly surrenders momentum under the weight of static time, tempo and tonality, a problem compounded by the limited range of the vocals.
It’s not all lost, though, as Zuul fires up its dynamo by channeling the symbiotic forces of Dave Murray and Adrian Smith. It’s a potency stressed best in bits and pieces of “Executioner” and “Backstreet Crawler,” the latter of which is a raucous tribute to Thin Lizzy and one of the album’s most fun moments. “Warhammer” might be the most rigidly linear track on the album, but it succeeds because it (finally) drops the tone a notch and employs those melodic leads to accent some welcome variation in intensity. As a result, it’s the hardest-hitting tune on the record. “Darkness on the Ice” is pretty intriguing, too. It’s no more original than the rest of Out of Time, but its Motörhead worship just feels true, all the way down to the Fast Eddie solo.
Out of Time is a bit of a mixed bag, alternately fist-pumping and forgettable, but the whole still outweighs its parts, mostly as a function of its fun factor. Bottom line: Zuul is pretty cuul. And, even if it’d be nice to see them spread their wings a little, inject some dynamics into the songwriting, there is plenty here to appeal to those of us within whom the heart of NWOBHM still beats.
Register to post comments.