Franklin Zoo – The Dandelion Child Review

I know we’ve been harping about shitty band names a lot this year, but come on. Franklin Zoo? Why? Is your music about 6-year-olds getting their first biology lesson because two bonobos decided to get exhibitionistic? Do you have a tearful ballad saluting Harambe? Apparently not, since The Dandelion Child addresses the philosophic studies of Soren Kierkegaard. Moreover, this Danish five-piece have been doing this for over a decade and kept the band name all that time, apparently of their own free will. But with a moniker that milquetoast, the music just can’t be any good. Can it?

The rhetorical reversal may have given it away, but yes, The Dandelion Child subverts the expectations by being a total knockout. Imagine the kind of exploratory structures previously erected by such greats as Green Carnation, fill in the framework with riffs that emerge from a spectrum drawn between modern prog and classic grunge, and finish off with a vocalist whose drawl resembles a more maudlin Chris Cornell,1 and you’re approaching a mental picture that is not unlike Franklin Zoo. Said vocalist, Rasmus Revsbech, is the most immediately recognizable element of the band, and likely the most divisive. When he keeps his performance small, he may appear nasal and unenunciated; his scream is hoarse, tending toward shrillness in the upper crescendoes. But his technical skill can not be overstated, and the emotional depth of his delivery even less so, ladling both heart and soul into the cranium, with intelligent lyrics that explore themes like loss, abandonment and self-sufficiency.

Though Revsbech steals the focus, he doesn’t need to carry the record on his own, as the rest of the Zoo more than stacks up. Like all the best records, this is less down to individual performances and more to the interplay between them. The way the main riff to the title track shifts up by a half-count to immediately create a more mobile, dynamic rhythm. The way the bass bubbles up to fill gaps intentionally left by the guitars. The way the percussion can move from tom-heavy tribal styles that draw on Tool to explosively heavy-hitting when the songs hit their climax, such as the gradually mounting subdermal pressure of “The Chameleon.” Contrasting that track’s almost doom-like introduction to its successor, the feverish “The Fugitive,” highlights the amount of diversity in the songwriting. Every track goes through multiple progressive movements before its end, and even “The Fugitive” halts for a breather before plunging down the dam with incendiary post-hardcore energy.

There are few flaws to be found, but “The Abandoned” tries its hand at a chuggy sludge riff with guest vocalist Jacob Bredahl (ex-HateSphere) attempting something like an Acid Bath scream. It’s a poor fit for The Dandelion Child, as the rest of the record is just not that kind of heavy. It’s also the only track that feels a tad long in the tooth —although nearly all cuts are quite hefty— and it means the record droops at the tail. However, an excellent midsection and solo ensure the record is not weighed down too much altogether. Furthermore, the entire platter sounds great. The vocals are a tad high in the mix, but the bottom end is lean and muscular. Plenty of spit and polish make for an easily digestible experience, without sounding clinical; there’s the urban reminiscence of grunge, but it has more weight and impact. I’d add that fans of the raw and gnarly should look elsewhere, but I imagine the mere mention of Audioslave has sent that subsection of our audience skittering early on.

Personal circumstances prevented me from finishing this review earlier. Ordinarily, I’d have dropped it altogether and moved on to something more timely. Not in this case, however. Franklin Zoo may have a moniker lamer than a quadriplegic stamp collector, the music is anything but. Overflowing with heart and personality, The Dandelion Child is a stone-cold stunner that treads the waters between prog metal and grunge with unerring expertise. Don’t miss this exhibit.

Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: WAV
Label: Self-released
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: October 1st, 2021

Show 1 footnote

  1. Soundgarden and Audioslave, if you really don’t know. Statistically, there’s gonna be a couple of you.
« »