ZED – Volume
Label: Ripple Music
Release Date: July 26, 2019
Whoa. In a word, that is how I can only begin to describe this album, because it has rendered me speechless. Every once in a while, you find a gem. One you are not expecting, which only makes the experience much more spellbinding. The universe delivered on this one, and I couldn’t be more pleased. Every time I end up with an album like ZED‘s Volume on my metaphorical desk, I get excited and feel the urge to listen many times, and write, write, write. I can honestly say, I would be surprised if there was even one person who took the time to listen and didn’t enjoy it, it is just that good. Allow me to try to gain my composure so I can write this damn review. Here is the almost comical thing, I cannot quite put my finger on exactly why I find this an absolute treasure. It displays many musical avenues, which I always dig since it keeps me entertained, and the musicianship is exceptional. It is groovy and has many stoner rock elements, but also harbors a bit of a 90’s feel in some songs and definitely some good ol’ classic rock vibes, as well as some bluesy influences. Well there you go, I guess I can explain why it’s a trove of sonic riches. I am already on my third listen, and I only received it this morning, which portrays just how enchanting these tracks are. Saddle up partner, I am picking all you hitch-hikers up for this ride.
ZED is rocking straight out of San Jose, California. They began their musical endeavors in 2007 as a four piece: Pete Sattari (guitar, vocals), Greg Lopez (guitar), Mark Aceves (bass), and Rich Harris (drums). Sean Boyles has since jumped on drums when Harris departed after a decade with the band.
“This record is the result of a joint decision to push on and come back swinging”, states bassist Aceves.
ZED has had the pleasure of being a headliner support at Maryland Doom Fest and just finished their first European tour. Volume is their fourth album, following their first album The Invitation, second Desperation Blues, and third Trouble in Eden. Without further ado let’s jump in.
Album opener, “The Other Kind,” begins with a kickass guitar riff and crushes quickly into a full-fledged jam session of epic proportions. Sattari’s vocals start after a Halenish drumbeat, and they drive straight into your ears all the way down to your musical core. It has the catchiest pause in the drumbeat, and every time I tried to concentrate on the lyrics, it kept driving me right back into the musical composition of the song. I have listened to this track repeatedly and I can barely tell you the lyrics due to this. Here is the absurdity, I can tell the lyrics are legendary, but damn that music feels like home and I couldn’t keep from returning to my comfort. When the guitar solo breaks out, my rocking heart almost bursts. This is the first song; I was worried I would explode before the end of the album.
I safely made it to track two, which is ironically titled “The End.” I can concentrate on the lyrics here, finally, deep breaths. This song is cleverly written about the end of the world. I kept picturing the story “Good Omens”, since this song would fit perfectly into it. If you read it, listen to this in the background, I bet you will feel it too. Guess what you get in this song as well? Another incredible guitar solo. These guys are no joke as far as their talent. Sattari’s vocals change a bit in this song, he sings more as opposed to the rougher vocals from the first track. He does both admirably.
“Wings Of An Angel”, takes another turn and sounds a bit Doors-like in the beginning. One of my favorite aspects of this song is the ability to hear every instrument, they all get a voice. ZED does a great job of this all around, which I appreciate. I want to hear the bass; I don’t want it to be a complementary sound in the background you can barely pick out. That is my personal preference, so anytime I am able to hear every instrument, I get a passionate pull in my soul. Most epic guitar solo on this album. Period. According to Aceves, “Greg hit guitar god status in my eyes on that,” one.
I need to probably not write about every track, or this review will turn into a novel. Every song is incredible. Every. Damn. One. “Hollow Men” has a Led Zeppelin vibe, it is amazing, okay I must move on, even though it is driving me insane not to write more. “Take Me Home Again”, is beautiful, bluesy, soulful, perfection. This song crushed my heart and enveloped my whole being. Once again, the bass has a prominent voice and the guitars in unison are magical as another absurdly good solo seeps into every fiber. I haven’t mentioned the drums much, but I must say Boyles is no sleeper. The beats, the creativity, the constant shifts while playing exactly what the song needs, is beyond impressive.
“Chingus” was the first song I heard of ZED and immediately knew they were something special. The video Aceves crafted for this song is a whole other level of creative talent. It is entertaining, hilarious, and you will catch something new every time you watch it, with some of your favorite musicians and characters throughout in LEGO fashion. The song is stoner rock at its best. You cannot help but rock your ever-living socks off to this song. Thankfully, this one you can hear right now. Since “I’m still searching for the words to say”.
“Poison Tree” is musical genius, memorable, and flawless. The drums kill it in this track, as does the guitar solo, shocking I know. Steady guitar riffs, impeccable vocals, how do I even say perfect song after song without repeating myself to death? “The Great Destroyer,” is very Sabbathy, more grooving riffs, stoner rock gruff vocals, bass goodness, drum beat heaven. About halfway into the song, you get an incredible hammer-on into steady classic rock groove jam excellence. It did about “rip my soul from my body” to paraphrase.
“Time and Space” begins with a bluesy harmony and continues in this vein as you find yourself closing your eyes and feeling it all. This track might be my favorite on this album, although it is very difficult to choose. These lyrics actually stuck out to me quickly. I have felt what he is saying, so it resonates deep within me. Flawlessly written lyrically and musically, it is the hidden jewel of this already solid album. This will be their “Freebird,” “Stairway to Heaven” etc. Sattari hits you in the gut with his vocals, they are so powerful.
“The Troubadour” is the final track, much to my dismay. I never wanted this album to end. It could not have concluded any better though. I really dig the harmonizing vocals on this song. I felt completely relaxed and centered while listening to this one, yet also bewitched. It is an easy one to get lost in. It is actually genius to have this one follow “Time and Space” because it almost feels like you have made that transition and are settling into this new world and environment. Almost as if you have transported to a parallel universe. It warms nicely in the heart and smooths out the wrinkles of your life obstacles.
Clearly, I was enticed by this album from beginning to the finale. The magnetism of each and every song is astonishing and satisfying. This has quickly become a favorite and will be put to the top of my playlist. I was enchanted every step of this journey. If you don’t take a few minutes to check these guys out, you will be missing out on some of the best rock has to offer during these times. I simply cannot speak highly enough of this album. I will let you off here, our journey together is over, but I encourage you to pick up your own metaphorical hitchhikers and take them with you on your next quest into Volume.