Zeke return with a fuller, more robust sound that is also faster and more chaotic. Seattle, WA’s Zeke has spent 25 years recording their brand of speedy rock n’ roll punk. And in an even odder twist, in 2004, as they are known for their two albums on Epitaph, Kicked in the Teeth (1998) and Dirty Sanchez (2000), Zeke moved to Relapse Records, home of grindcore and death metal classics.

Fourteen years later, Hellbender resurrects the band in traditional and exciting fashion. Zeke have always been kick-ass musicians that fuse hot-rod rock n’ roll with defiant punk.

Most tracks start with a guitar string squealing in tension – as feedback wails – and then all four instruments come crashing out the gate like Chuck Yeager. Others commence with a drum roll spinning its tires like a champion funny car propagating volcanic smoke. And then, boom! The feel of the live recording is palpable. Strap in, spit, and spew. This is rock and roll. A few tracks time under a minute, including the title track. The rest barely pass 90 seconds; all under two minutes. Zeke hammers home 15 tracks of blistering – in 20 minutes. The splintering speed of the drums and guitar-work and brilliance in its brevity suddenly make sense of Helbender calling Relapse home.

Sure. There are moments and single songs which stand out on Hellbender; the obstinate riffs and leads in “Working Man”, head nodding allegiance demanded on “Two Lane Blacktop”, the machine gun snares on “AR15”, or ripping tune on “Devils Night”. But Hellbender is created to be enjoyed as one slab; slamming together to coalesce into a furious, frenzied, frantic whirlwind. Like laps around the track, certain aspects and turns helped the machine, but crossing that finish line faster than your peers is what counts. Zeke bring home a trophy here.

RIYL: Hookers, Dwarves, New Bomb Turks, Antiseen, Turbo ACs, Poison Idea

Purchase the album here.


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