It’s hard to fault a band like Zeke, as they do exactly what they set out to do. If it’s relentless hardcore punk you’re after then that’s what you are going to get. Not a single song on this album gets past the 2 minute mark. It’s superb and thrashy all the way through with a face melter of a solo thrown in for good measure.
Now that may sound tedious to the unfamiliar, but it really isn’t. In fact it’s gloriously enjoyable. The single ‘On The Road’ takes it down a notch in speed and furiosity and introduces a catchy air punching chorus. In fact hardcore punk and it’s various offshoots can sometimes get a hard time, but the musicianship on Hellbender is phenomenal. Some of the solos are utterly bewildering in their speed and notation.
ZEKE formed in 1993 with an original lineup of Blind Marky Felchtone, Donny Paycheck, Mark Pierce, and Dizzy Lee Roth. After releasing a couple of singles, ZEKE set out to bring their energetic recordings to the stage and established a more than formidable reputation as “the live band to beat” via concentrated regional touring. The band was heralded as “Rock and Roll outlaws,” playing every conceivable venue that would have them. Over the course of the next decade, ZEKE continued to build national exposure, signed to Epitaph and toured relentlessly around the world playing everything from stadiums with 50,000 people, to bars with 10 people, but the spirit remained the same; rock like this might be the last show ever.
This is very old skool hardcore, so don’t expect a mathcore opus or some glorious melodies and gut wrenching vocals. There is something wonderfully familiar with Zeke though. Maybe it’s because I grew up on skate videos and listened to Motorhead. Feel good music it certainly is and you can do a lot worse than pounding a beer or two to this at the weekend.
Go forth and consume, and remember why you had so much fun at rock shows.
Hellbender is out now on Relapse.