Friday, October 7, 2011

about "son of a witch" : review + interview with ZOMBIE KING

Coming from Charleville Mézières and formed in 2006, this french Stoner rock band has just released its new album a few days ago. "Son of a Witch" follows a self-titled debut which came out rather confidentially two years ago, but the band has in between given quite many sulfurous gigs to gain an increasing attention, inducing some real expectations for this 2nd release. 
Rawer, stripped of from some too smoothy parts and with a better production, "son of a witch" shows a great improvement in many terms; named influences from Kyuss or Fu Manchu seem here now more realistic, for our greatest pleasure...
At first sight, the essential force of attraction of ZOMBIE KING is the presence of female singer Emeline, she has been compared to Misdemeanor's vocalist which isn't false at all but I think that on this album she shows a real evolution towards some heavier and more direct singing, this is still clear and harmonious but more (just enough) agressive. But that's not all ...
You guessed it ZOMBIE KING like fuzzy guitars with thick, hot and dripping riffs; the rythmic section is massive and rumbling, something with guts and balls that can easily heat halls of their corner (which is not known -weather speaking- as the nicest place to live in France !). The pace is generally well balanced,  but it is not  devoid at all of sensitivity and technical abilities.
Direct, as yet mentioned pretty much in the vein of the referent Kyuss, the style is dense and powerful, no room is left for dispensable breaks or uninspired useless solos, everything is well orchestrated in a kind of immediate urgence, just like if their lives would depend of it (sure, things must be done well and quickly when zombiefied mexican catchers persecute you !)
30 minutes, this album passes too quickly, in that way that reminds me Brant Bjork's last album, short and catchy, but amazingly awesome songs... This is not the only common point with the "cool man"... the heaviness and catchiness of a song like "a ritual and the aftermath" reminds me "lion one" from the album "punk rock guilt", while "hanged at dusk" or "one million light years" could have found a great place in another "somera sol"; more refined and meaningful, this tends to consider ZOMBIE KING as not just another traditionnal Stoner outfit. 
Rather than sounding like an insult, the expression  "son of a witch"  will now refer to a gem you'd better purchase urgently !!! I asked a few questions to Jérôme (guit) to help familiarize with this worthy band :

* How did you want your  sound to evolute to get such a great result with "son of a witch"?
With "Son of a witch," we had a real desire to anchor our music more strongly in the stoner landscape. Our first album was recorded very quickly and was a kind of melting pot from all our influences, it was much more nuanced. So we worked the songs to fulfil definitely our true desires and I think the result is immediately clear to the ears when listening to both albums. It was also very important for us to have a visual  transcribing this evolution and Fred, a friend of ours, has fully met our expectations.

- Your name refers to the movie "zombie king (and the Legion of Doom) and a part of your texts also apparently or at least about this universe, that's a pretty original trip for a french band and even for a tradionnal stoner type of band, can you tell us more about this concept?
Indeed, the band's name was even initially including "and the legion of doom" !!! Cinema is one of our biggest influences in terms of texts and moods. The most part of us in the band are fans of this kind of movies, including the operating theater and cinema bis, occult movies of the 70's, grindhouse, that kind of stuff ! This passion is naturally transcribed in our texts, which generally deal with occult rituals, virgins sacrifices, witches ... I've seen the performance of  ELECTRIC WIZARD at the Hellfest this year, they aired an old movie of Jess Franco and  the result, the atmosphere were just incredible. That's something I really would like to do.

- How do you situate ZOMBIE KING in the French scene? which objectives "son of a witch" should help you to achieve?
Hard  question ... I have absolutely no perspective on what I do, so I could not tell you where the group is exactly within the scene. French stoner scene starts to really grow and there's quite a few killer bands who gain more and more attention. Our music has allowed us to share the stage with bands like LOS DISIDENTES DEL SUCIO MOTEL and GLOWSUN, two bands that are for me top notch ! that's yet a kind of victory for us ^ ^ Then, our goal was never to professionalize us, perhaps because the opportunity never came either. We just want to offer quality work, and have fun. Our albums never go out in large numbers (all is self-financed) but it is a great way to confront us with  the audience and press opinions. We did not really set targets with "Son of a Witch", but if it can help us to get cool contacts and find dates, it will be a great satisfaction.

- Your 2nd guitarist has just left the band, how was the recent latest concert with him ? it's a shame just before the release of the album, do you intend to find quickly a replacement in order to tour as soon as possible ?
Indeed, Pak is leaving us by lack of time, we all have our life outside the band and he will be extremly busy in 2012. Our last concert took place on the 1st October, with GLOWSUN and WHEELFALL and it was a great night! We've have already thought a lot about this situation and it seems that we decided to stay all four together, not looking for any replacement ! We have yet started to compose, but sure that for future live performances, we should have to rework a bit differently the tracks from the album. We are still in transition, so I'm not sure of anything. Time shall tell...

- What do you think of the existence of Kyuss Lives and especially the relevance of a new album (maybe cancelled considering the personnal problems of Mr Oliveri)? don't you think (like me) that Brant Bjork's new album would be much more welcome and quickly if possible ?!
ah, this is the BB's fan speaking here !? you know I've seen KYUSS Lives at Hellfest and it was just awesome. Some people just think about them like a "money machine", but a KYUSS gig is something huge, just pure happiness. Concerning a new album, I would be more reserved but why not ?! Scott Reeder has replaced Nick Oliveri on several dates, so why not on the eventual album ? So, I will do my greedy, a new Kyuss and then a new Brant Bjork right after ^ ^

- Can you tell us how to get the album and its price? Do you have contacts for distribution?
The best to get the album is to come see us live ^ ^ There is no distribution network for the moment, however if a label wants to support us, we're all opened^ ^ We have never been good at making promotion and it's true that it is a problem today. We are just a point in the multitude of groups that emerge and to be noticed is a real obstacle course.... (but if you insist and ask him details, 10€ should be ok to get your copy for sure !)

- As long as talent and motivation are present, one can certainly play rock'n roll everywhere, but isn't it sometimes a little difficult to be a stoner band up there in the Ardennes (north-east of France,  a bit isolated, far from Paris and other big cities) ? But on the other hand could the proximity of neighboring countries (Belgium, Germany and Luxembourg) help you like a window towards abroad ?
It's extremely difficult to exist in the Ardennes ^ ^ There are very few places that allow bands like us to play. We still managed to organize amazing stoner parties, but the audience here is basically metal, sometimes hard to interest them in something different. Belgium offers indeed some opportunities to move, we're also close to Reims, Lille, so we sometimes have great opportunities here and there. A project of SMAC is on its way for  Charleville, I think it will offer real solutions to the local groups to organize evenings of quality, but I admit that for now it's a little desert. And we ourselves love the desert so ...^^

- Thanks Jérôme, I wish you all the best, a small conclusion maybe ?
Well, thanx very much for your interest. The immediate future for us is all about managing the change in the line-up, there's work ahead of us but we'll be back soon, because to play live is our greatest pleasure !   Good luck to you.

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