Thursday, 23 October 2014

ZAPRUDER - Fall In Line (Album Review)

Fall In Line cover art

Album Type: Full-length
Date Released: October 20th 2014 / December 2nd 2014 - USA
Label: Apathia Records & Hipsterminator Records.

Fall In Line - Tracklisting

1.We Are Orphans 03:11
2.Cyclops 05:24
3.Modern idiot 04:02
4.Moloch 06:00
5.Delusion Junction 02:18
6.Doppelgänger 02:31
7.Monkey On My Back 06:14
8.Loquèle 03:48
9.Je Ferai De Ma Peau Une Terre Où Creuser 08:01


Isaac: Vocals/Lyrics
Etienne: Guitar/Backing vocals
Quentin: Guitar/Backing vocals
François: Bass/Backing vocals
Romain: Drums/Backing vocals


Hailing from Poitiers, France, this is Zapruder’s debut LP, following a 2012 EP “Straight from the Horse’s Mouth”. They plough a similar furrow to fellow countrymen, Anorak, and Swiss powerhouse, Kruger, mixing Cult of Luna style post metal, the early-2000s “metalcore” (before that was a dirty word) of Norma Jean and a bit of latter day Dillinger Escape Plan’s mix of chaotic riffing and straight up rock n’ roll swagger. Taking this combination as a foundation, they then throw in a few more unusual elements, which aren’t always a complete triumph, but serve to set them apart from their peers and make them an interesting proposition.

The band set out their stall in style with opener “We are Orphans”, focusing on the more rock’n’roll end of their spectrum, with the fierce, barked vocals of Isaac Ruder in full effect from the outset. Things get more interesting on “Cyclops” which continues the good work of the first track and then slows things down to a doomier, spacier vibe overlaid with some free form, discordant lead guitar that sounds like a squealing violin. The lead guitars on this album are one of the elements that really set it apart from the many bands out there, labelled as post metal. Most tend to rely on melodic guitar lines and riffs and avoid anything like “lead guitar” or solos, but there are a number of instances on this album where guitarists, Etienne Arrivé and Quentin Cacault, really abuse their instruments in order to make a joyous racket as opposed to anything melodious – it works a treat.

Zapruder’s relentless quest to try their hand at a number of genres is not always a success though. “Modern Idiot” begins in satisfying style similar to “We are Orphans” but falls into trouble with a brief outburst of gang vocals over some generic hardcore chugging which then gives way to an entirely unexpected and frankly, unwanted funk section. People may try and tell you differently, but deep down everyone knows funk and metal should never collide.

Fortunately the subsequent track “Moloch” is a belter and makes you quickly forget what went before. Probably the slowest and heaviest track on the album, it also features some quieter more atmospheric passages, reminiscent of “Fire in our Throats…”-era Pelican, giving way to soaring heaviness, akin to Japanese titans – Envy, and then rounding things off with a bit of crushing riffage. Nice.

Delusion Junction” is the mid-point of the album and acts as much-needed breathing space. A short instrumental, consisting of clean, delayed guitars overlaid with saxophone and clarinet. It gives the overall effect of a stoned mariachi band or an attempt to evoke the minimal, dustbowl atmosphere of recent Earth. It’s a great track, a style and sound I’d like to hear the band expand on in future.

Short and sweet, “Doppelgänger” starts the second section of the album off in blistering fashion with some furious, chaotic riffing overlaid with some great unhinged, spaced-out guitar work. This continues into the squealing slide attack intro to “Monkey on My Back”. This attack continues into the second half of the track as the tempo drops and the band degenerate into a swirling cauldron of doomy noise and distant chanting.

Proceedings take an unexpected turn with “Loquèle”. Following the two most furious tracks of the album with an acoustic ballad sounds like a horrendous idea on paper, but is strangely successful in practice. To a backdrop of just acoustic guitar, subtle electronic beats and bleary, washed-out saxophone, guitarist Quentin Cacault steps up to the mic for clean vocal duties. This offers a complete contrast to the rest of the album and would have made a satisfying conclusion to “Fall in Line”.

The album concludes, however, with “Je Ferai De Ma Peau Une Terre Où Creuser”, which for me is the most disappointing track on the record. Clocking in at 8 minutes, it’s the longest track here, but also the most pedestrian. Whereas the previous 8 tracks keep things interesting by mixing together a lot of, sometimes disparate, elements to make a cohesive whole and avoid conventional quiet/loud, build/release song structures, this track for the most part feels like a self-conscious effort at a slow burning epic and suffers for it. The guitar work is a lot more tasteful here too, in stark contrast to some of the more out-there and distinctive parts that really lit up previous tracks. The worst offender is some mid-pace melodic tapping of the kind favoured by the vast horde of generic, self-styled post rock or math rock bands at the moment. Things pick up for the end of the track though, when the pace and volume drops for a more subdued climax which shares a little of the atmosphere of “Delusion Junction” but with clean, melodic vocals in place of saxophone and clarinet.

Overall, “Fall in Line” is a promising debut from Zapruder, throwing together lots of different styles and ideas which don’t always work, but make for an unpredictable and engaging listen. Hopefully they can make it over to the UK in the near future as I reckon they would be great live.

Words by Charlie Butler

Thanks to Jehan at Apathia Records. Fall In Line is available to buy from October 20th 2014 and December 02nd 2014 in USA.

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