Zebadiah Crowe – The Cloven Hand EP
Release Date: 02/12/2020
Running Time: 11:47
Review by Steven Hooke
Zebadiah Crowe are a hardcore-influenced black metal duo based in Hertfordshire, UK who returned to the music scene in 2020 following a 7-year break with the album “Host Rider”. With a hefty amount of momentum behind them, they would soon follow-up with this EP, featuring experiments into the realms of *checks notes* industrial, 90’s house and dubstep. Hmm…
An electro element is no stranger to the strict world of black metal with the likes of Anaal Nathrakh, The Axis of Perdition and Aborym all making names for themselves by sounding like a Tamagotchi caught in a chemical fire. Zebadiah Crowe themselves have dabbled with the ol’ keyboard before, delicately dabbling with some atmospheric synths before their hiatus in 2013, bringing them back in a more pronounced fashion for “Host Rider”, leering over the barrelling ruckus of The Horrid and Forrrthen. But the boys go one (massive) step further by enlisting the dutiful hands of Portsmouth electro nu metal outfit Seething Akira, and underground Hitchin-based industrial metal troupe Gods of Ruin, to add some profound beeps and boops to their particular brand of black metal.
Despite the 2-on-1 handicap, it is Seething Akira that pulls out the bigger and better result. Dubstep enjoyed a short spell of being a metal fan’s guilty pleasure and the genre’s confidant in the late 2000’s, thanks to bass-breaking modulation (colloquially known as “wubs”) and heavy bass drops invoking the same response as a hearty metal breakdown. Seething Akira tap into those tropes almost a little too well, veering a reorganised Zebadiah Crowe into an electronicore sound that could rival Crossfaith, whilst giving vocalist “The Horrid” the Al Jourgensen-esque through-the-radio overlay, retains ZC’s sinister edge in the song.
That is not to say Gods of Ruin have done a particularly bad job. Their first track ‘Barrens Forge’ is a slower-paced affair built on the back of the looping trio of samples – a classic house drum clash, a scaling synth line, and a hearty guitar power chord – later joined by someone leaning on the E key. It accomplishes its job perfectly fine, although it’s hard to see the line between this and Linkin Park’s “Reanimation” album.
Their second attempt, ‘Skull Shank’, is a much better effort, bringing forth images of the 90’s rave scene of dodgy goatees, bucket hats, short pigtails, and so many PVC vests. Whilst thematically, it is further away from Zebadiah Crowe’s sound than any other track on the release, it resonates with the band’s core sound the most sonically; a high-tempo and vicious delivery of music that should’ve been what they danced to in the cave scene in ‘Matrix: Reloaded’.
All power to everyone involved who were willing to take such an alternative approach to a genre so prone to gatekeeping. Personal preferences will likely differ based on the era you grew up in (and shocker, the filthy millennial likes the dubstep wub-wub parts) but the energy and aggression on display certainly sits soundly in the Zebadiah Crowe camp.
“The Cloven Hand” was part one of two post-“Host Rider” EPs to be released by Zebadiah Crowe, the second EP “LychMilk” is also available now and is an evolution of the industrial influence in the band’s sound, sounding more akin to the industrial black metal stalwarts mentioned at the top of the review.
01. House Of Worms (Seething Akira Remix)
02. Barrens Forge (Gods Of Ruin Remix)
03. Skull Shank (Gods Of Ruin Remix)
The Horrid – Vocals, Bass, Drum Programming
Forrrthen – Guitars
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