It’s a harrowing task, to nail that sweet spot between metal and punk. The two scenes, sometimes allies, sometimes bitter nemeses, can prove difficult to seamlessly marry despite obvious commonalities, much like the musical equivalent of a denim-vested Romeo and Black Flag-tattooed Juliet.
Zig Zags have accepted this challenge for eight years now, knocking out thrash metal at a steadfast rate. Under the heavy influence of early Metallica and Motorhead, They’ll Never Take Us Alive arrives to bang the heads of metalheads and punk rockers alike in wonderful harmony.
Riding a lightning storm of crunchy distortion, hard-stomping drums, and reverb-heavy vocals, Zig Zags lead listeners through ten hazardous tracks of Hetfield-influenced thrash metal. They’ll Never Take Us Alive as an album title even strikes as a clever up-ending of the title of Metallica’s classic first full-length album, Kill ‘Em All, which is also this album’s most obvious influence.
The riffs are tasty and plentiful, a villainous feast of noise. “Punk Fucking Metal” kicks off the wicked times, a flag-planting mission statement declaring where the band stands on the rock spectrum. “Fallout” is a banger that would have Cliff Burton grinning cruelly from beyond at the subtle-yet-dexterous bass line and includes allusions to classic horror movies such as The Hills Have Eyes and Dawn of the Dead. “Why I Carry a Knife” is a sinister, bass-centric song that relents for a satisfying moment from the onslaught of distortion.
Title track “They’ll Never Take Us Alive” features a punky chorus that is surprising in its poppy verve, and it sticks as one of the more memorable tracks on the album due to this change of course. “God Sized” seals the deal, a slower and atmospheric song that verges on the sludgy side. It builds to a shred-fest of soloing guitar and closes out They’ll Never Take Us Alive in appropriate fashion.
Zig Zags are a band that have done their research of the legends, and have taken their perch upon the shoulders of giants. Fans of classic thrash metal will no doubt find something familiar yet fresh on They’ll Never Take Us Alive.