Zombie Western are a relatively new band (formed in 2009) from Waco, TX which is the home state to post-rock legends like Explosions in the Sky and This Will Destroy You. The band came onto the scene with “The End…And the Aftermath,” a solid rookie effort. Now they’re back with another album, “The Great Migration” that clocks in at just over 40 minutes.
We’re met with a short eerie intro piece that leads into “Wasteland” which quickly brings the intensity. Drums are prominent and high in the mix while moody bass fills the low-end of the mix. Guitars give off high-pitched squeals as the drums set the pace for the track. The track gives off a desolate vibe and is an excellent track that shows the band has matured with a more tight sound. “A Pilgrim’s Departure” takes it down a notch as the intro eases the pace and the song is a lot more spacious than it’s predecessor. Bass is rich, but not overly rich which I felt plagued their previous album in certain areas. While the mix is very pretty with instruments finding their place in each individual channel, the epic build up here didn’t quite do it for me. The breakdown is just far too short in all it’s glory for a nearly 5 minute build up.
“Pillar of Fire” is my personal favorite track on the album. It starts rather mysteriously with an excellent bass line looming in the background. Why more bands don’t feature their bassists is something I’ll never understand. Bass adds so much more atmosphere and life to tracks and Zombie Western is a perfect example of that. I also really dig the way they layer their guitars. In this track for example there is almost always at least two layers but it almost feels as if one is always the dominant layer since they never seem to compete for the spotlight.
“Heroes or Ghosts” follows and returns again to the slower pace. I like this track, especially its tones and the Explosions in the Sky influenced drumming, but it’s in a rough spot on the album, sandwiched between my favorite track and the 10 minute long monstrosity that is “Without a Tremor.” As you can imagine this track builds slowly using all common elements of Zombie Western has to offer: Looming bass, punchy drums with airy cymbals and overpowering guitar. While the guitar work is solid across the board, the heavily distorted tones really do it for me the most. The pacing change halfway into the track is a real nice touch too as the song almost instantly goes from looming and building to drumrolls signalling the peak is quickly approaching. The album wraps up with the title track and it has a chill vibe going on for it. The guitar work in this track is insanely good, amongst the best on the album. The wailing guitars amongst a layer of static is absolutely brilliant and makes for one hell of a fantastic finish.
At the end of the day Zombie Western have shown great promise in their two releases and continue to get better. It’s tough to make a name for yourself when two of the biggest post-rock bands in the world (Explosions in the Sky and This Will Destroy You) are looming right in your backyard. It would be easy to ride off of their momentum and conform to their styles with a similar sound but Zombie Western hasn’t done that. They have a unique sound that sounds like nothing else I’ve heard coming out of Texas and that’s probably the best thing these guys could possibly have going for them. An excellent album that deserves all the praise I’ve given it. 8-16-12
Available for $7 on bandcamp: http://zombiewestern.bandcamp.com/