Zebrahead – Brain Invaders (Album Review)

Zebrahead – Brain Invaders
Released: 8th March 2019

Line Up:

Matty Lewis // rhythm guitar, vocals
Ali Tabatabaee // vocals
Dan Palmer // lead guitar
Ben Osmundson // bass
Ed Udhus // drums, percussion



Zebrahead are a difficult band to define. The band proudly declare themselves as “punk rock tripping with the flavour of hip hop”, which is the most apt description one can give, however over the years their sound has leant more to pop punk, or hip hop or metal and has incorporated a variety of sounds and flavour in their music. Due to this, Zebrahead’s fans are loyal and devoted, loving the diversity of the band, while casual listeners struggle to understand why the passionate are so fervent in their love. And Brain Invaders is certainly not going to help to clear up what label to categorise the quintet.

Opening with ‘When Both Sides Suck, We’re All Winners’ the album starts loud and ferocious, with a classic metal riff before Ali Tabatabaee begins his vocals. The song segues to clean punk vocals with Matty Lewis singing the chorus. It is a catchy as fuck, a brilliant start to the album and clearly announces that Zebrahead are going to incorporate as many genres as they possibly can into the mix.

‘I Won’t Let You Down’, slows the pace down, incorporating some sound effects, giving the guitars a distorted sound before moving to a boppy chorus that can’t help but encourage the listener to sing along. First single ‘All My Friends Are Nobodies’ follows, a rock song with Lewis’s signature pop punk vocals, before second single ‘We’re Not Alright’ provides the punk/ hip hop combination fans have come to expect from Zebrahead‘You Don’t Know Anything About Me’ starts with a horn section, and the insistent beat of Ed Udhus’ drums underpinning the entire song. The inclusion of the horn section, is a nice nod to tour mates Reel Big Fish and Less Than Jake, bands Zebrahead frequently tour with, creating a distinctively ska sound mixed with Tabatabaee’s raps. ‘Chasing The Sun’’s gritty guitar riff nicely juxtaposes the very summery vibe of the chorus, creating an eclectic mix all within one song. ‘Party On The Dancefloor’ starts with a traditional punk rock riff before Tabatabaee performs with venom and determination in his voice that gives the whole song a slightly aggressive tone. Moving from aggression to overly emotional, ‘Do Your Worst’ sounds like it would sit well beside the songs in My Chemical Romance’s The Black Parade. It is an earworm, that drives itself into your brain and won’t let go. ‘All Die Young’ follows reverting back to a pop punk sound, slightly slower it allows the drums to shine through.

Shifting to ‘Up In Smoke’, with its jaunty whistle and old school computer game sound effects, the song is so laidback it evokes imagery of the ‘good old days’ when life was simpler and you had no responsibilities. ‘Ichi, Ni, San, Shi’ (a nod to Zebrahead’s big Japanese fan base) returns to heavier, crunchier guitar work, letting lead guitarist Dan Palmer rip through the song, demonstrating his excellent skills. Slowing things down again, ‘Take A Deep Breath (A Go Fuck Yourself)’ is the ballad of the album with an overly dramatic chorus. ‘Better Living Through Chemistry’, has elements of Zebrahead circa 1998, but with the newer lineup and the strength of Dan Palmer and Matty Lewis. The album finishes with ‘Bullet On The Brain’, stepping it up a notch again, incorporating the gritty, fuzzy guitar work, sitting side by side with a more pop punk friendly chorus, and a chant along bridge before the song and album ends with some feedback.

Brain Invaders throws everything at the wall, and where some bands would fail miserably, Zebrahead excels. It is part of their appeal, their ability to mix genres, change sounds and basically surprise their audience. Fans will love this addition to Zebrahead’s catalogue, while casual listeners will find something they like… I mean how could they not.

Scan 762

Zebrahead – Brain Invaders tracklisting

  1. When Both Sides Suck, We’re All Winners
  2. I Won’t Let You Down
  3. All My Friends Are Nobodies
  4. We’re Not Alright
  5. You Don’t Know Anything About Me
  6. Chasing The Sun
  7. Party On The Dancefloor
  8. Do Your Worst
  9. All Die Young
  10. Up In Smoke
  11. Ichi, Ni, San, Shi
  12. Take A Deep Breath (And Go Fuck Yourself)
  13. Better Living Through Chemistry
  14. Bullet On The Brain

Rating: 9/10
Brain Invaders is out March 8th via MFZB Records. Pre-order here
Review by Carys Hurcom @CarysWoS

Catch Zebrahead touring Australia and (no doubt) playing songs from this new release in April/May. More details here

zebrahead band

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