Zulu : A New Tomorrow
Let’s cut to the chase—there’s never been a hardcore album like A New Tomorrow. A 15-track opus that’s both a teeth-smashingly heavy hardcore record and a resplendent celebration of Blackness, Zulu’s debut full-length is a jaw-dropping collection. You’ll notice this review has immediately jumped into praise for the album, rather than via more usual introductory musings. This is the explosive effect of A New Tomorrow.
Contemporary metallic hardcore bands such as Zulu (along with the likes of Knocked Loose and Jesus Piece) are dragging the genre into a warped, brutalist future. Drawing on turn-of-the-millennium acts such as Disembodied and broader styles like death metal and powerviolence, this new breed of metalcore (a name that’s rarely assigned to these particular acts though clearly applies) is an intense and muscular one that has uncovered whole new depths of musical ferocity to explore.
A New Tomorrow goes toe to toe with Zulu’s peers in terms of its calculated ferocity. There’s endless moments across these 15 tracks that are going to send pits worldwide into a frenzy of kicks and swings. The likes of “Lyfe As A Shorty Shun B So Ruff,” “Our Day Is Now” and “52 Fatal Strikes” climax with spacious breakdowns, as if the fevered tracks have exhausted themselves and all that’s left is slow, pointed violence. Zulu also possess an effortless sense of groove, an underappreciated but crucial trait in hardcore. Album highlight “Fakin Tha Funk (You Get Did)” devolves into a danceable rhythm, while epic closer “Who Jah Bless No One Curse” rapidly shifts tempos with elegant élan.
But this only tells half of A New Tomorrow’s story. Zulu have made the bold decision to interweave various other forms of Black music—such as hip-hop, jazz and indigenous African musical influences—amongst their trademark hardcore. Various tracks wholly deviate from the onslaught, such as the mellow hip-hop of “We’re More Than This” and tranquil grooves of “Shine Eternally.” Others deviate from their hardcore course and become something else entirely. “Music To Driveby” shifts from brief powerviolence to a lengthy Curtis Mayfield sample, while “Who Jah Bless No One Curse” becomes a celebratory tribal song, conjuring images of the A New Tomorrow’s joyous cover art.
This sunny disposition is what makes the album such a startling prospect. We’ve come to associate this brand of hardcore with nihilistic darkness, however Zulu are radically asking: what if it could be an agent of liberation? Interlinked with this is the palpable air of Black consciousness that A New Tomorrow channels. The album features a melange of African-American voices, both the band members’ own as well as guest stars such as Soul Glo’s Pierce Jordan and Truth Cult’s Paris Roberts. It adds up to a sense of solidarity, a rebuttal to a world that often seeks to silence the voices of the marginalized. It’s an extraordinary experience, a versatile and discombobulating collection that thrillingly reminds you of music’s radical capabilities.