Zippo - The Road to Knowledge
Subsound Records – December 2008
By Simon Brand
From their beginnings as a stoner rock band in 2004, Zippo
's latest effort leads them round the corner and down the path into progressive sludge territory. Featuring the expected chugging riffs alongside proggy leads and time signature changes, The Road to Knowledge
also contains subtle acoustic passages and psychedelic flavours with tinges of flamenco and tribalism.
Sourcing material from Carlos Castaneda's thesis, The Teachings of Don Juan
, the album serves as a musical exploration of its contents, effectively conjuring parallels to the book in some places but falling short in others. The tribal chants in 'Lizards Can't Be Wrong'
and the Native American feel to much of the album were obviously written into the release to paint images of Castaneda's travels, but other moments such as the unaccompanied hard-man vocals at the beginning of 'El Enyerbado'
feel very out of place and make the album seem less focused than it could be.
The band show compositional skill spanning various instruments, textures and styles. They experiment throughout all of the near hour-long run-time, which keeps the album varied and shows the wealth of ideas that Zippo
have in their collective heads. They should particularly be commended on putting so many styles into record without making it hard to digest, as is often the case with releases with similar scope. Each style is dealt with admirably, but sometimes the band seem to bite off more than they can chew, most notably in 'He Is Inside Us'
, which features some shockingly messy acoustic playing given the instrumental proficiency displayed on the other tracks.
The Road To Knowledge
is a release not without its flaws, but is ultimately an enjoyable and varied experience. Recommended not exclusively to fans of progressive and sludge metal/rock, but also to those looking for something a bit different to sink their teeth into.
Official Zippo Website
Official Zippo Myspace
Official Subsound Records Website