Tuesday 17 March 2015

Review: Zoax – 'Is Everybody Listening?'

'Is Everybody Listening?'

London-based quintet Zoax may only be on EP number two with the release of 'Is everybody Listening?' but the bands subtly groovy heaviness has been making a few ripples. They have already got two appearances at Download festival under their belts as well as scoring support slots with the likes of Cancer Bats, Polar, and Architects. You might be forgiven for thinking that's enough of a statement to adequately sum up the band. But you'd be wrong.

Yes, the band base their sound in a post-hardcore formula, but they find themselves at the artier end of the spectrum by infusing quiet and discordant – almost jazzy – interludes as well as an ever present groove that underpins the tracks and which recalls the likes of Glassjaw and Thrice with hints of Deftones brooding.

Aside from the quiet curve-ball of the untitled intro, the album proceeds with speed through tracks like 'Lonely Soul', 'Zero Point Seven', and 'Innocent Eyes', which thrash and writhe under the emotional strains of the lead vocals that switch from screams to thinly melodic at the switch of the hat.

The band are striving for their own identity, and they certainly have the talent to do it... but the fact remains that their less aggressive side is more expressive than the post-hardcore heaviness that is their obvious selling point. They have a strongly progressive, even experimental potential that serves to set them apart, but is still stifled by an unnecessary reliance on fashionable heaviness. The band have skill and depth and would really benefit from pushing themselves in a less formula-driven direction.

There will be many out there who will cry out that with a confident display of power and emotion such as this, that the band have sprung from the Earth fully formed. True, they sound like they could be on their third album already.... but therein lies the crux of the problem. It's still too familiar. Too safe. There are the potential elements here to really make themselves stand out from the crowd, but as of now they're just rudimentary quirks to their sound. They could stick with this formula and with the backing of a label like Century Media sell some respectable units. Or, they could go for broke and really push themselves beyond what everyone else is doing and break new ground. Time will tell.

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