EP review: Zebrahead – III

Orange County punks Zebrahead dive headfirst into their new era…

EP review: Zebrahead – III
Emma Wilkes

Changing a frontperson can shake a band to their foundations. Yet in spite of co-vocalist and rhythm guitarist Matty Lewis’ departure earlier in the year, Zebrahead are striding boldly into the future on their first release with Assuming We Survive’s Adrian Estrella behind the mic. Embracing this change wholeheartedly – naming an EP after the number of vocalists you’ve had is a bit of a power move to say the least – III is the sound of a band refreshed and re-energised by the new.

This sentiment is apparent from the off, with the Orange Country punks launching into opener Lay Me To Rest with defiant vigour, smoothly moving from sawtoothed quasi-hardcore verses into sombre piano bridges and back again without the seams ever showing. The amount of ground covered in that song alone is remarkable, but there’s much more to come beyond it, with the band proving in the remaining four songs that they’re not running out of tricks any time soon.

Out Of Time sees the long-time genre-blenders show the young ’uns how it’s done with a modern pop-esque beat in its verses that feels authentic rather than forced or conformative, alongside some characteristically stylish rapping from Ali Tabatabaee. Similarly, Russian Roulette Is For Lovers hops, skips and jumps across genres with equal success, layering rapping over peppy ska guitar lines before a surprise metallic attack is thrown into its latter half.

But even when III isn’t being outrageously ambitious, the easy-going groove of A Long Way Down and gravel-laced slamming of Homesick For Hope never fail to offer anything less than heaps of fun. While they are somewhat simpler, that’s hardly a complaint when the band pour as much energy into them as they do, and nothing they do here ever feels remotely safe or complacent. In their self-declared third era, Zebrahead have the shininess of a brand new band, and it’s thrilling to see.

Verdict: 4/5

For fans of: Sum 41, Less Than Jake, Goldfinger

III is released on November 26 via MFZB.

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