Remember a few days ago when I gave my opinion on pop music? I supported it with Wikipedia’s definition of pop music. Part of it was this:
“…the main goal is usually that of being pleasurable to listen to, rather than having much artistic depth.”
This applies to not just pop music. There are quite a few genres that generally fit into this definition, dubstep being one of them. One of the few artists that consistently transcends this definition is Zomboy.
Despite not having released an LP, Zomboy quickly rose to the top of Beatport’s dubstep and drum and bass charts. This success can probably be attributed in part to his similarity to the crazily popular Skrillex (I’m pretty sure he’s even used some Skrillex samples), but he definitely has his own unique style. His second outing, The Dead Symphonic EP, defines his style even better than before.
The album dropped in September of last year. It’s got some unneccesarily gross album art (nothing grotesque or gory, just some unneeded creepy zombie figures, mostly silhouettes, but some have some visible wounds), but when you get past that, you find some dubstep gold. The EP is short enough that I’ll do a track-by-track breakdown.
Nuclear (Hands Up): Definitely one of the better tracks on the EP, Nuclear starts out with a reggae-ish intro, with the repeated call of “C’mon, now lemme see ya hands in the air.” Obviously not the most meaningful lyrics, but it’s made up for with the excellent drop in classic Zomboy style. The second drop surprised me a little – rather than a remixed version of the first, like most dubstep, Zomboy basically turned the second half of the song into the only DnB (drum and bass) song I like. Definitely a standout track.
Hoedown: This track is not great. In fact, it’s pretty poor. It starts off with a generic one-note wobble behind some staccato strings and some generic drums. The drop is introduced with an Angry Birds sample, which is interesting but a little strange. The drop is unique, but I just didn’t like it. There was a little too much high-pitched oscillation for my tastes.
Vancouver Beatdown: One of my favourite dubstep tracks ever, and the best on the EP. It’s also one of the few dubstep tracks that compells you to dance rather than headbang (or spasm awkwardly). There’s no defining structure other than the beginnning of the first drop, yet the whole song flows flawlessly, and there’s some surprising sonic changes throughout the song. Definitely a keeper. (I apologize for all the alliteration so far. I promise I’m not trying.)
City 2 City: I’ve never been a fan of vocal dubstep, but this track works better than most others. Unfortunately, like most EDM with lyrics, the words are pretty meaningless.
“City to city, we’re stepping on the same ground
Make it loud, come listen to the sounds like
Open our eyes if you’re dying in the sunlight
Try try, but don’t always get it right like
Still, Belle Humble’s vocals are good despite the emptiness of what’s being sung, and dubstep is really meant only for entertainment and musical artistry, never to make someone ponder lyrics. Thinking sonically, though, the drop would probably be Zomboy’s best if it weren’t for the awkward reversions to the intro that happen occasionally, which really detract from the song. Still, the drop is good, with more bass than Zomboy usually uses, making this still a solid track. The unnessecary use of “2” in the title still bothers me, though.
Deadweight: This track isn’t bad, but it doesn’t really stand out. The intro is pretty predictable, and the drop isn’t amazing either, but at the same time, I can’t find anything else bad to say about it. Not a track to skip, but not one to seek out either.
Gorilla March: I really can’t stand this track. Not only does it disappoint because it has nothing to do with gorillas (which could have been really cool), but it’s very annoying. The intro is mediocre, and the drop is just a 4-5 note hook replayed with some vocals being sampled crazily fast plus DnB percussion, which I rarely enjoy. I never listen to it all the way through. It’s too bad this was chosen as the closer.
“Nuclear (Hands Up)” is a catchy, dancable track, along with “Vancouver Beatdown”, which is very unique.
“Hoedown” is pretty repetitive, and has more high pitched sounds than bass, but “Gorilla March” is just awful.
Zomboy has definitely improved with this EP, and has more of a distinct style – he’s no Skrillex copycat. While there were some poorer songs, the EP as a whole is pretty good. Rather than purchasing the whole album, priced at $6.00 on iTunes, I’d recommend picking up the two strongest tracks and possibly “City 2 City.”
6 out of 10 stars.