Sometimes, I’m glad I never really got to play in a band. I know from plenty of conversations with friends that it can be a very stressful experience, with numerous set-backs. That point was hammered home to me in May, when Zügellos posted that a label had rejected them based on image. Considering that the one-man band play some very nasty and intense blackened crust, and that previous album Goathymns was so damned good, it seems almost absurd. Isn’t the underground meant to be about music rather than image? Evidently not. Thankfully though, the band did not let this set-back stop them, and the end result if Horror Vacui, 12 tracks of blistering blackened crust that absolutely slays.
If anything, I’d be willing to wager that this experience has really lit a fire in the belly of sole member Majestic. This is as angry an album as you could hope to hear, bellowing its rage and passion for all to hear – the energy and rage is every bit the equal of bands like Wolfbrigade. There’s more than a hint of that band’s brand of lycanthro-punk to Zügellos’ sound, with the mix of d-beat drumming and soaring guitars very reminiscent of the best crust and d-beat. There’s enough black metal influence to stop this being pure crust-punk though, with plenty of tremolo leads and a decidedly second wave touch to some of the riffs. Such black metal influence may be less prominent than an Goathymns, and there is less of the icy atmosphere which that album possessed at times, but there is much, much more intensity, pace, and rage. Tracks like “Crown Me” and “Alpengluhen” take no prisoners, battering you in to submission with a mix of d-beat rhythms and blasts; whilst “Versengt” and “Holy Perdition” demonstrate the black metal in Zügellos’ DNA, combining tremolo leads and melody with real fury – the parts in “Odium” that combine blasts and high speed tremolo leads are possibly the best in the album. And there’s also plenty of those wonderful bass-led moments that can help stop crust being too overwhelming, as on “Fucking Pigs”.
But really, this is an album that is best experienced as a whole. Each song becomes more than the sum of its parts when surrounded by the others, making it a listen that is as rewarding as it is intense. Needless to say, you’ll not be wanting this on in the background or when you need to focus on something important – it’s music that will grab you, roar in your face, and leave you in the dirt, bruised and hurting, yet feeling refreshed and energised for the experience. Zügellos possess the passion and talent to make music that is worth paying attention to, and deserve much, much better than to be ignored simply for wearing the wrong t-shirt in promo pics.
Horror Vacui can be streamed and downloaded via Bandcamp.