Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Midnight Zombie Alligator - Nova Sico (album review)

'Nova Sico' is a six song, 52 minute concept album centered around the experiences of a zombie apocalypse survivor.  The concept behind the album has been adapted into a written story called Alpha i Omega by friend of the band Sergi G. Oset.  This project is fully immersed in art and creativity and is given greater life outside of itself by the written word and also by the moving picture Corpus Earthling, a 23 minute mini-epic directed by Midnight Zombie Alligator (MZA) vocalist, drummer and keyboardist Alejandro Moreno.  More than a simple music video, Corpus Earthling tells the tale of Alpha i Omega and 'Nova Sico' taking the work from the status of a static album to that of a dynamic and fluid multi-media project, in fact the video features surprisingly little in common musically with the album making it more of an addition to the overall project than a rehashing in a different format.

The album starts off, ballsily enough with three songs that tip the scales at over ten minutes a piece.  "Colourful Darkness" takes the mood of opening titles music from a zombie movie and expands upon it.  The opening piano figure perfectly captures the somber mood of a horror flick, supported by synthesized strings, cymbal swells and ethereally haunting guitar.  At ten minutes, it's an unusually long intro, but there's nothing really usual about this record altogether.  "Cuerno Meseta" begins to open things up in a stoner rock direction while still retaining that old horror flick sensibility with a slow but catchy riff that drones relentlessly.  Ten minutes into this twelve minute track, the listener finally hears Moreno's voice for the first time.  After twenty minutes of instrumental music, we get our first taste of Moreno's perfectly suited slightly smoked-out voice and penchant for catchy melody.

The reverb-drenched title track spans eleven minutes of its own and encapsulates the feeling of unsheltered terror in the night while retaining a slow stoner doom sensibility.  "Taste My Flesh" moves in those rarified circles known as 'anthems', if there ever were one for zombie victims, this is it and that's for sure!  A more than satisfying riff with a catchy chorus and a simple message that's easy enough for anybody to understand: that's an anthem alright.  The next track "Corpus Earthling" continues the more traditional stoner rock tone and sticks out like a sore thumb, it being the only real basic, three-minute song on the whole album, it is also the only track to veer away from the somber mood / midtempo pace.  It's the 'action scene' of the album, if you will.

The band returns to the key-laden soundtrack feel on the final track "Patient Zero", only this time with vocals.  I can't say this piano-driven ballad will appeal to every stoner / doom fan, but it does fit with the album and the story, completing the tale.  It also builds slowly to an epic Led Zeppelin by the seaside kind of feeling.  I don't want to tell you how the story ends but I think it's somewhat up to interpretation if you haven't read the accompanying narrative or seen the video.  There's no surprise ending or sound effects in the music, but there's a subtle tone to the final riff which should send the shivers a rattling the spine.

Don't be swayed by hipsters, zombies are still cool and always have been, no matter how long they've been trending.  As Dracula, Frankenstein's Monster and the Wolfman before them, Zombies are now a staple of the culture.  Recently, members of the Canadian government discussed "what if" scenarios about a zombie holocaust, treating the House of Parliament as a comedy club.  When you remember that the government owns about a quarter or a third of your TIME and LABOR, depending on how much money you make,  and that that time and labor pays the salaries of these clowns it's very upsetting.  In an odd way, the lines between entertainment and reality are blurring more and more.  I for one thought we'd have seen the peak of that blurring with the rise of so-called "reality TV", but I suppose the movement continues to escalate.  What was once diversion has now become fodder for parliamentary discussion.  On the other hand, the lines that once divided, categorized and segregated different forms of media is blurred by Midnight Zombie Alligator and this is an orgy of creativity that is very welcome.

Like 'The Wall' or 'Tommy' before it, 'Nova Sico' is a true concept album, not a collection of regular songs that happen to tell a longer story, but a narrative with a strong sensitivity towards storytelling built with atmosphere and also long on hooks.

Highlights include: "Taste My Flesh" and "Cuerno Meseta"

Rating: 4/5

Total Run Time: 51:59

Alejandro Moreno: Vocals, Drums, Keyboards
David Trillo: Guitars, Vocals
Toni Pérez: Bass, Choirs

From: Barcelona, Spain

Genre: Stoner, Psychedelic, Prog

Reminds me of: Goblin, Pink Floyd, Zombi 2

Release Date: November 30, 2012

Suggested listening activity for fellow non-stoners: Find the cure within.

Better Review:

*special thanks to Sludgelord for introducing me to MZA via this review

MZA official website
MZA facebook

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