REVIEW: Zakas - "Shunk Daddy Grind"

By Marcus Pan

Chain Border

I have no idea who, what or where a "shunk" is. If someone could define it I'd be appreciative of the offer. The term "shunk" is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the utter strangeness of Zakas, a new metal/rock outfit blaring out of the desert. Zakas are distributed by a new indie label from Las Vegas, McC Music, Inc. and their leader, Bill McClirk. Bill handles some of the keyboards and bass work throughout Zakas' debut LP,Shunk Daddy Grind, and it seems McC has begun as a vehicle for the distribution of work from him and his peers. Ultimately that's fine - many labels began as distribution vehicles made for and by the bands they promoted and many have moved on to bigger and better things. From the looks of the packaging, press kit and other supporting material that has come with this submission, it seems that McC is quite a pro-looking act. Or maybe they just fake it really well like I do.

Shunk Daddy GrindAnyway, Zakas seems to be quite a number of people. It's a rather large congregation of folks here, no less than two dozen names on the credits list (including my favorite, Kelly McClain credited with "Mother Earth's Orgasm" in Tremble Tremor.) How in the hell they'd ever pull off a live set I have no idea, but they create a full, strange and multi-influenced hybrid sound in the studio. You can clearly hear multiple personalities within the confines of Zakas' music.

And what about the music? That's a tough question. DJ Macross of IPM said it best: "Zakas is WEIRD. I can't put my finger on what this band is supposed to be about." Zakas takes an old-skool-metal, story-telling atmosphere and injects it with an astounding level of surrealism and weirdness. At first I was appalled by it - a "what the hell is this supposed to be?" type of attitude occurred upon the first listen or two. But upon the third listen or fourth, I was intrigued by Zakas' body of work. I found it interesting, unusual, initially annoying but eventually refreshing. It's really weird shit too. But it's catchy, it captures you in its cheezy metal riffs.

Looking at individual selections, Tranq. Dart, track 3, is reminiscent of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and the lead singer's screams are half-funny, half-cool. This one is the story of a cheetah being taken in the wild and moved to an animal reserve, and looks at it from the perspective of the animal. The outrage of being wrapped up and waking up somewhere different. No matter how pretty the zoos look, it's still not home to those captured and stuck in there. I'd like to see you live in a cage as ugly hairless apes ogle at you all day.

My favorite is track 4, Brand Old. This one is the more standard-rock than the other weirdness surrounding it, with great beat tracking and needling guitars that make a rock anthem. A satisfying tune about what mankind is doing to Mother Earth. No Right Turn on track 5 is the start of the Desert of Desire Trilogy. This is an example of too much noodling. Off-kilter trumpet/bell breakdowns. A surrealism attempt that comes out like a bad trip. The next part of the trilogy, Behind the Veil, promptly gets wackily Arabian on yo' ass. It's kind of neat. By the time you get to Jewel of Shalizar, the closer of the trilogy, Zakas takes you off the deep end with the Arabian thing and combines it with some pimp-daddy rap spoken word. No I said, Zakas is some weird shit. Also, late-era Anthrax fans will get off on the opening track, Flying 2 Kites.

Will you like Zakas? It's damn hard to say. For some strange reason I'm enjoying it. It takes me back to my old metalhead days and promptly doses it with a few tabs. Reminds of the time I was hanging out with my old friend Russ, tripped my nuts off, and watched the music form itself and float across the room. It's surreal, strange and utterly fascinating. Yet at the same time, because of all the people involved in its creation, it's a BITCH to classify. These guys are fucking up my whole CD filing mechanism. But their doing it a style all their own.

Buy The Album
Buy Shunk Daddy Grind

Post: McC Records, 3230 E. Flamingo Rd., Suite 8, #354, Las Vegas, NV, 89121
Phone: (800) 434-6675
Fax: (702) 891-8837

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