Zen Guerrilla
Zen Guerrilla
Label: Sub Pop Records
Genre: Rock
Online: Artist Website


Back in the good old days when dancing meant exploding...

Original and current members Marcus Durant, Rich Millman, Carl Horne, and Andy Duvall formed Zen Guerrilla back in 1991, during the waning years of their enrollment at the University of Delaware in Newark. The original Zen Guerrilla mission involved more noise experimentation than evidenced by their more recent hybridized rock ‘n’ soul. And, yes, back then at least two of them spent time in Iron Maiden cover bands (time for which they are unrepentant - witness the band’s recent single featuring a hyper-driven cover of "Trooper"). Two singles on the band’s own Insect label followed. After migrating to Philadelphia, circa ‘93, they released a self-titled LP on the Compulsiv label, and by the end of 1995 had released their second LP, Creature Double Feature, as well as the Invisible Liftee Pad and Gap Tooth Clown EPs on Insect. During their years in Philly the band developed a reputation for their live show (a mix of the conviction and showmanship of James Brown and vintage Butthole Surfers-esque psychedelic sideshow). It’s a well-earned reputation, built upon ceaseless touring and an on-stage commitment nothing short of visceral ("We enjoy playing," deadpans Durant). By late 1995, the band relocated yet again, this time to San Francisco. In SF, Zen Guerrilla partnered up with Jello Biafra’s Alternative Tentacles label and released 1998’s Positronic Raygun album, a blast of hardcore Motown, blending blues, rock, soul, punk and gospel into a heady brew. The end of the 20th century saw Zen Guerrilla unleash a new full-length (and their first for Sub Pop) titled Trance States in Tongues.

Which brings us to the new record... Working with producer Jack Endino again (as they did for Trance...), Shadows on the Sun is certainly the band’s most complex effort to date. Less reliant on obscurant effects, Marcus’ vocals see the light of day in an unprecedented fashion, revealing the post-apocalyptic Otis Redding lurking within (witness "Where’s My Halo"). Carl and Andy’s unified front in the rhythm section destroys or simply fucks whatever is in its way, seemingly on a whim (compare and contrast "Barbed Wire" with "Smoke Rings," just for instance). And, Rich’s guitar on, pick whatever track you want, shows a positively undeniable intensity. Zen Guerrilla: one foot in the Stones, the Kinks and Led Zeppelin, the other rooted in the Ohio Players, the Stylistics, and the Temptations. Theirs is a synthesis from both sides of the proverbial tracks. Wait, that’s pretty much the history of rock ‘n’ roll...