Holy City Zoo |Echozone, 2009|
1. Tribe, 2. Holy City Zoo, 3. New Paradigm, 4. Wambulance, 5. Manufactured Terror, 6. Skull and Bones, 7. Sky God Worshippers, 8. The New Religion, 9. This Ones For You, 10. Atmosphere, 11. Tribe (Blueblood Warpaint Remix by Sindaddy), 12. Wambulance (Terminator Meltdown Remix by Metalmorphosis), 13. Holy City Zoo (Do Not Feed Remix by Akanoid), 14. This Ones For You (Programmist Remix), 15. Tribe (Elektrofish Remix), 16. Manufactured Terror (Sanctuary Radio Remix by DJ Rob), 17. Skull And Bones (322 Cubed Remix by Sindaddy)
I really enjoy writing music reviews of the bands which either have been on the scene for many years or their musicians have extended portfolios of works and a meaningful experience, which has grown thanks to other projects they participated in.
I’m not quite sure yet where the name of the album, Holy City Zoo, comes from (this review is written before we got interview answers from Mark in which we asked about the album name meaning), however considering the artwork, it could be possible it was sarcastic about nowadays dis(order) of the USA, where its citizens started complaining and things were not ‘cool’ anymore.
Holy City Zoo was also a name given to a comic club based in San Francisco, founded in the 70s and closed down in 1994. The club name was made by its first owner who was buying some tables for the club in Holy City, California at the time, and he got a free sign of the local zoo on sale.
Mob Research is one of those super-bands with British-American roots, which features: Kory Clarke (vocals; Warrior Soul, The Stoned, Trouble), Mark Gemini Thwaite (guitar, keyboards; The Mission, Peter Murphy’s band, Tricky) and Nick Lucero (drums; Queens of the Stone Age, The Flys, Peter Murphy’s band). There’s mentioned also Legion Davies (guitars) in terms of setting up Mob Research or at least its album recording.
Paul Raven (Killing Joke, Prong, Ministry, and session cooperation with such bands like 16Volt, Pigface or Society 1) was a bass player in the band, however he wasn’t able to live up until the album release due to his sudden heart attack in Geneva, 2007, while the rest of the band was adding the vocals and mixing the album in the USA. Certainly, the album is dedicated to the memory of Raven.
There are 17 songs on Holy City Zoo, where seven of them are remixes made by, for instance a Texan SiNDADDY, known from making remixes for other bands, but there are works by DJ Rob, Electrofish, Akanoid, Metalmorphosis and Programmist as well.
The album is filled with punk and rock sound mainly tho if you have a sensitive ear you can hear a gentle samplers interference, so that means industrial rock content too.
The first 10 songs are energy explosion, accented with characteristic and harsh Kory’s voice, who’s been experienced in punk-rock bands and seemingly still stands eager to join new projects. His voice undoubtedly influences the sound of Mob Research.
It was useful to have Mark Gemini Thwaite in the band as well who bravely supported The Mission for a lot of time, however his experience reaches far beyond gothic-rock sound, considering the fact he was cooperating with other artists representing very different styles of music like Gary Numan, Roger Daltrey (The Who), P.J. Harvey, Grand Theft Audio, and even Alanis Morissette. His once subtle once aggressive guitar riffs build up a suitable atmosphere for every song.
Finally there’s Nick Lucero with his accurate for Mob Research songs drumming and who played on “R” album by Queens of the Stone Age amongst all other appearances.
The opening track “Tribe” rises the interest to the CD at once. It spreads a lot of atmospheres so typical for Killing Joke and Prong, so their former member Paul Raven’s participation became almost dominative to the song.
The following track „Holy City Zoo” discovers its refrains way too fast, but at the same time it can be memorable after only one listening, however it stands far from being called ‘catchy’ in its positive meaning.
After a little bit lyrical „New Paradigm” there are the two amazing songs I dig a lot - „Wambulance”, much more industrial rock then the previous compositions and „Manufactured Terror”, kept in the same style too but a lot heavier. I dare to say the guitars in that song were tuned up to sound like in Soundgarden or Paw’s music. Both of the songs are simple, rigid and dynamic, which give me all the reasons to like them at once. Then „Skull & Bones” comes in with all its meaningful features making it useful to create the band’s main song hit thanks to easy refrain, melodies perfect for live performances and some similarities to the new Filter’s music.
I wasn’t that much interested to „Sky God Worshippers” because I’ve heard a lot of songs kept in that vibe so far so seems my ears are resistant. „New Religion” has its grunge-like tune and so people in love with Nirvana, Stone Temple Pilots or just meaningful noisy rock may find it very interesting. The same about „This Ones For You”, however there are more melodies and catchy refrain so fits perfectly a college radio station.
The last song before remixes is STUNNING. My high rating of the song can be understood by those of you who got fascinated with tunes of new romantics and cold wave of the 80’s, and a little bit of gothic rock at that time. „Atmosphere” is an instrumental composition which draws attention a lot. I think even the toughest hard core music fan wouldn’t omit the song on the album but correct me if I’m wrong.
So it was the first part of Holy City Zoo. The general melodies and songs construction gave me some idea to compare them with Filter’s music both noisy and rock but sometime just lyrical.
The other part of the album is filled with remixes. My personal attitude the remixes at all is negative. It would be the best to forbid making them. I’m sure though it’s possible to bring some new tunes to the song through the remixes, but it doesn’t change the fact it’s not an original band’s idea and to me the original idea of the song creators matters the most. In other words, when I hear a song the very first time and I like it, I never like any remix more than the original song later. Even I hear a remix first I look for the original song and I still like it much more than the remix. However Mob Research avoided boring electro music orientated remixes (as seemingly most of the industrial rock bands have tried to make that electro scene happy for the last couple of years, no idea what for) and I’m grateful. Thanks to their guitar driven music the remixes stayed still cool.
First of all the remixes on the album should be listened aloud. I mean it. Take your headphones or volume up your speakers so that you’ll hear what’s real. Production and mixing of the album is OK but there’s a lot going on inside of the remixes.
„Tribe (Blueblood Warpaint Remix)” and „Skull And Bones (322 Cubed Remix)” made by SiNDADDY, with drum’n’bass bent (and it seems like a magic wand touch of Chris Cozort (Trozoc), who remastered those two remixes), though fortunately there are guitar and bass appearance still. Practically they replaced only the real drums with beat sampled.
SiNDADDY speeds up a tempo of the songs so that his remixes sound more aggressive. I like it all except of those techno-like synthesizers which make me want to run away to a place they play hard rock or metal orientated music.
Then it comes „Wambulance (Terminator Meltdown Remix)” by Metalmorphosis, a very danceable remix, great for music clubs, which keeps all the meaningful features the original song contains. The song structure was intelligently rebuilt, guitars were underlined and Kory’s shouts as well. Rock’n’Roll of the XXIst century.
After a few seconds, no matter if you want it or not, you can’t control your head and feet becoming reactive to the rhythm. In fact, you can end up dancing. If I don’t accept remixes in any guitar driven music (have you heard of any Seattle scene band making remixes? No? That’s why it remained good!) then Metalmorphosis made it as good as Trent Reznor remixed Davida Bowie’s „I’m Afraid of Americans” or Charlie Clouser remixed „Democracy” (Killing Joke). „Wambulance (Terminator Meltdown Remix)” could be successfully released in different versions on a single in Japan, USA and Europe. So who stands for that Metalmorphosis finally? He’s Mark Gemini Thwaite mentioned above, a guitar player for Mob Research and The Mission.
Later we can hear „Holy City Zoo (Do Not Feed Remix)” by Akanoid, and it’s another good remix on the album mostly thanks to keeping the aggressive, rock vibe of the original track with all its shouts, full bass and guitar lines. They replaced the drums and the song structure mainly but also some new samples were put to the background. I enjoyed an easy and precise guitars underlining.
„This Ones For You (Programmist Remix)” holds the original tune too tho they added new samples and so it would be called a remix at all. The original song by Mob Research isn;t that much interesting to me so I’m afraid it couldn’t be done more with its remix as well but Programmist made this task professionally.
Electrofish remixed „Tribe”, but of you have the two remixes of the same song on the album it comes to comparing so I had to get back to the one made by SiNDADDY. Electrofish’s remix is more rock orientated, guitar driven with no crazy tempo, enriched with new samples and new beat added to the existing one. You will judge which is better if you buy the album yourself.
I was curious about DJ Rob’s remix (he hosts an alternative radio at http://www.sanctuaryradio.com) for „Manufactured Terror (Sanctuary Radio Remix)”,
because the song is the heaviest on Holy City Zoo album. The remix is done pretty well and additionally got some psychedelic samples.
On the final note I can say because of Mob Research music, mostly guitar driven and rock orientated made by experienced musicians on live instruments (not computers that much), it was a good decision to avoid making fully danceable remixes with techno or electro dull and marching rhythms. The remixers reinterpreted the original songs in a good manner, enriching them with new samples or additional beats still matching the vibe.
Of above reasons, the remixes on the album still may be sold shamelessly on guitar drive music market. It brings new names to a limelight like Metalmorphosis, Akanoid or Electrofish (who along with Akanoid’s Hilton Theissenem remastered the album).
I also believe everybody has heard of SiNDADDY so far and I hope the new albums of him will bring brand new songs instead of remixes (which are cool but how much long yet if he has met so many important guitar music stars whom he could cooperate with?) soon.
Of important experience Mob Researched musicians have gathered through the years, their knowledge of different music styles and eager participation in their creation, it came a very interesting album which should satisfy even the most demanding ears on the planet. Highly recommended.
(Katarzyna 'NINa' Górnisiewicz. Must not be used for promotional or commercial purposes. See a Legal Note for the copyrights below.)
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