Heavy is as heavy does and Zen Guerrilla, over the course of the late ’90s and early ’00s, has done it a lot. It is rocking live, loud and in every corner of the nation, spreading the rumor that, despite words to the contrary, rock hasn’t lain down and gone quietly just yet. This evangelism is ZG’s stock-in-trade and it shines through on Shadows on the Sun.
Often labeled stoner-rock or other such odd works of journalistic nomenclature, Zen Guerrilla’s latest is a deft mix, blending heavy rock ’n’ roll (in the classic SubPop mode — thunderous and overdriven) with blues, soul moves, and an energy born of punk and tempered by the discipline the band’s name implies.
In front man Marcus Durant, ZG’s got a wicked pair of lungs and a vocal charisma and braggadocio that recalls Paul Stanley or Chris Cornell, but throws in wild-card shouts and throaty R&B hyperbole that neither of those fellas would think about trying (and not in the “Jump back! I’m Elvis!” Jon Spencer kinda way, either).
And this isn’t to say that Shadows on the Sun is all riffs and big bashing, either. As evidenced on the cut “Subway Transmission” or in a hundred other little moments between the crashes and chords, Zen Guerrilla is a remarkably subtle guitar band too, with a knack for balancing bombast with attention to detail. ZG works bits of psychedelia into many of its moments and even manages to wrangle a little acousti-country jangle too. Hmm. ...
In a more just world, Shadows on the Sun would be blasting from speakers between Metallica and AC/DC instead of Creed, Staind and other piece-of-shit rock bands. But this obviously ain’t a just world and you’ll have to settle for spinning Zen Guerrilla for yourself. Shadows on the Sun would be a good place to start.
Zen Guerrilla performs Wednesday, Oct. 17 at Magic Stick.
E-mail Chris Handyside at [email protected].