Listening to this debut release from Zedi Forder makes me think of a rephrasing of a now-famous commercial: I don’t always review radio-friendly alt-metal, but when I do I review good radio-friendly alt-metal. My selections (read: offal) this month have ranged from bad to worse, but I’ve been granted respite with the debut album from this British trio. Formed from now-defunct bands Tricore, An Entire Legion, and Idigent, Zedi Forder are here to help us breeze into summer with some catchy and accessible metal. Is it suitable for those of us who are too kvlt to listen to anything approaching hockey rink music?
Some background on these fellows: drummer/singer/songwriter Chris Kerley and guitarist Mark Carstairs hail from An Entire Legion, a band of similar bent to Zedi Forder, who split up a couple years ago. They were also in Tricore, a band that smiled much too often for their own good, and similarly disbanded. Bass player Richard Tomsett previously released albums as Indigent, a one-man experimental black metal band. So, a variety of backgrounds and a lot of skill spread amongst these blokes, and it translates better in the songs than one might think. Disparate background and influences can sometimes coalesce into intriguing, engaging music, and that is the case here.
Opener “Killakarta” is a standard mainstream alt-metal song, along the lines of what one might hear from Chevelle for instance. And like Chevelle’s better tunes, Zedi Forder reel you in with solid hooks, slick production, and top-notch vocals. It chugs and riffs along like solid arena rock until throwing us for a loop with a quiet interlude in the middle. It’s a nice twist on what started as an average arrangement, but a good example of what’s in store: essentially, radio-friendly metal with a lot of interesting twists and turns. Most noticeable is the band’s sense of humor in songs like “Nachoman” (complete with the silly video below) and the doo-wop of “Dark Mook.” Throughout the album one gets the feeling these guys are having a blast jamming together. The jazzy snappiness throughout “Open Wide” is a quirky changeup, and leads directly into the frenetic “They Love it More.” All told, variety is the name of the game here, and it keeps the listener engaged the whole way through.
It’s hard to find much fault with Zedi Forder. Combining excellent musicianship with top-notch songwriting tends to result in solid records, and that’s the case here. Perhaps the drums could sound a bit better, as they do come off as generic, but that’s a minor nitpick. Musically Kerley holds the fort down with solid work on the skins, nails his vocals, and Tomsett is more than equal to the task on bass, dropping inventive riffs and fills with ease. Carstairs’ guitar work varies from stereotypical alt-metal tone to jazzy gliding, but the generic riffing never lasts long enough for a song to sink into mediocrity, and his changeups are tasteful and well-arranged. Interestingly, the album comes with four bonus tracks, completely reworked acoustic versions of some of the songs, and the band’s capabilities are evidenced by the fact that a couple of these – “Machines” and “Time After Time” in particular – are actually stronger than the originals.
Despite their label as alt-metal, or heavy rock, Zedi Forder combine their pop sensibilities with a dark humor and undercurrent of off-kilter menace much like we hear from Faith No More and System of a Down. None of the songs come across as filler, although of course some are more instantly memorable than others. “My Moon” has a great chorus, and closing track “Lonely One” is the most complex song on the album, yet it sticks in your head like a baby monkey riding a pig backwards. Considering that the album and the bonus tracks are all on Bandcamp for Name Your Price, you’d be doing yourself a disservice by not taking a chance. Zedi Forder will be getting a lot of airplay in my car this summer.