Contagious and chaotic, similar to most nightly activities in the life of a pirate, it’s Zebrahead’s turn to ‘Walk the Plank’.
The mere mention of Zebrahead conjures 1990s flashbacks of black shirts with flames up the sleeves, baggy cargo jeans and an overwhelming feeling that everyone was on a drug that you couldn’t wait to get your hands on. In celebration of this modern day pirate image, OC’s punk mainstays are about to weigh anchor on their twelfth album, but this ship is far too energetic and contagious to sink.
From its jangly opening to its lightning speed vocals, party-starting opener ‘Who Brings a Knife To a Gun Fight?’ revives the adolescent charm of Zebrahead’s chaotic talent, blissfully repetitive but catchy as sin. Its antithetic successor ‘Worse Than This’ presents the timeless pop punk optimism of intricate fretwork to blows with its apathetic tone – “I know things will get better cos it just can’t get any worse than this.”
The sassy anthemic drawl of ‘Freak Show’ epitomises the band’s exuberance that has remained pivotal to their reputation ever since 2000’s infamous ‘Playmate of the Year’. Equally contagious and confident, ‘Headrush’ makes a sly appeal to contemporaries Sum 41, while ‘Running With Wolves’ projects a similar boundless energy to demonstrate just how Zebrahead have come so far but never forget their roots.
“I’m sick and tired of everyone and everything I know,” laments the catchy introversion of ‘Keep It to Myself’, mirroring the head-nodding anthem to indifference of ‘So What’. Similarly, ‘Kings of the Here and Now’ spits, “We’ve had enough of it, we never take no shit,” standing its ground with authentic punk aggravation. There’s safety in numbers throughout ‘Save Your Breath’, declaring the unavoidable truth that, “I’m a total fuck-up, you’re a total fuck-up, everyone you know is fucked up too.” Nothing like a punk-esque blunt insult.
The title track explores the record’s pirate theme, swashbuckling its way through an acoustic backing to frontman Ali’s menacing whispers, while the swelling tide of ‘Under the Deep Blue Sea’ showcases phenomenal sticksmanship from Ed Udhus. The deceptively optimistic melody of ‘Battle Hymn’ provides a generous soundtrack to a piratical stand-off, following the energetic commanding ‘Wasted Generation’ – laced with a cleverly disguised adaptation of Iron Maiden’s ‘Trooper’ in its opening notes.
Zebrahead continue to revel in their ability to wave at trends and fads as they sail right past them. Rightly so, because ‘Walk the Plank’ proudly displays the best assets of their personal treasure trove, something which no avid adventurer can take away from them.
’Walk the Plank’ by Zebrahead is released on 16th October on Rude Records.
Words by Ali Cooper (@AliZombie_)