Zeni Geva
Freedom Bondage
[Alternative Tentacles]

We all know how outlandish the Japanese may seem to the Westerners. While I am not about to start a discussion on peculiarities of the Japanese national character, I will note that its eccentricity has been successfully transferred into the field of music, as this country has been churning out loads of unusual, extraordinary musicians for years. Take Zeni Geva's mastermind K. K. Null (who is also a prolific and diverse solo artist) and witness what he and his band managed to achieve with "Freedom Bondage." They dissected and reshaped what dozens of guitar demagogues in genres ranging from noise rock to death metal have been screaming about for the past decade or so, and created an amazing kaleidoscope of styles without being pointlessly derivative.

"Alienation" sounds like an out-of-control Helmet circa "Strap It On," while "Death Blows" is a short burst of Neurosis-like aggression. The title track could pass for a straight-up death metal number were it not for the weird guitar intermission at the end of the song, punctuated by the reverberating drum solo. Meanwhile, tracks like "Burn Your Flesh Out," "Hate Trader" or "Disorganization" combine within themselves driving death metal frenzy with a slew of American guitar bands, from Prong to Big Black to The Jesus Lizard. Allusions to Swans and Godflesh could also be found if sought, and I am sure someone could point out even more references to other bands that escaped me, so you can discover them on your own.

I must repeat that Zeni Geva did not simply borrow from all these bands, switched the variables around and served them to you, pretending that it's something new and original. Rather, they extracted an essential archetype from each band, altered it and incorporated into their own creation, which also includes a few strange segments inspired by the band's own cultural roots. The culmination of it all comes in form of the last 10-minute track called "Ground Zero," which consists of several transforming themes, and is indeed a killer song.

If you like your music hard and heavy, but you are tired of the same old clichés, Zeni Geva is your ticket out of the monotonous morass of faceless clones. In other words, it will be purely your loss if you ignore this band.

© 2000 boris