After lying in bed with scenery consisting of drifting ceilings and absent eyelids, this year can finally end with a night of sleep soaked "z"s. Over three hundred days spent and not many left to live (for 2006) and FINALLY Sabertooth Zombie drops Midnight Venom: eighteen tracks of metallic hardcore that sound like seventy-two hours of no sleep and snakes tonguing with broken tongues.
If you've been following Sabertooth Zombie since their initial demo dropped in 2004, you've been carrying around blue balls for two years. The wait was worth it. Instead of throwing together a bunch of tracks as an excuse to have a higher price and an excuse for a longer set, what we have here is a genuine full-length. The tracks flow together. Midnight Venom sounds like the boys of the North Bay put a conscious effort into the arrangement of songs. Hell, there's even an instrumental interlude - titled "Interlude" -track with echoing guitar notes. Unlike most punk bands that just make songs, Sabertooth Zombie writes songs that create atmosphere. Not an atmosphere that I'd like to live in, but one I'd like to dip into often.
Cover artwork of vipers drooling blood, posed to strike, that flow into business hands shaking exemplifies the feeling of this album: dark-gory punk/hardcore/metal sounds that combine social consciousness and fucked up imagery into one abrasive/hooky product. The simple and solemn full moon on the back of the album is rad as well. As good as this looks on the CD case, it would look a lot better on a 12" release (HINT HINT).
Five songs are re-recorded for Midnight Venom. They are "Shoes," "Fragments," "Self Mouth," "Get Bent," and "Giant." As good as these songs are, having new songs in their place would've been better, especially for "Fragments," which has been on two previous releases. But, for songs "Shoes" and "Self Mouth" that were only available on the split with North Bay's short-lived Jumpstreet, for many this will be a first listen opportunity. And for a bigger but, Midnight Venom contains thirteen new songs so this minor complaint is even smaller.
Thankfully Sabertooth Zombie didn't go down the pop-punk path of The Only Good Politician is a Dead Politician's "Mind Fuck Infection." Instead, there is a further step into the metal domain, which is exemplified in the opener, "D.O.A.," and songs like "Lady Death..." In this newer wave of songs beyond just being "metal tinged" there is an obvious crossover/thrash influence thrown into the mix. Very rad. Eric also throws tons more killer and more noticeable guitar leads into the mix. Also very rad. Instead of dissecting each track, I can sum it all up with this statement: hardcore songs that don't sound like hardcore songs. If you're looking for something super straight forward go buy a discography from an older band.
As much as the music of Sabertooth Zombie rules, their highest point - which is somewhere in the clouds - is their lyrics. Cody spews gnarled words like a Tyrannosaurus Rex except for the song "Disgusted," which is sung by Fury of Resilience. Some favorites:
"Smash the Whitehouse. Loot the Office. Go to Sacramento slice Arnold's esophagus." from "Flee Creep and Cheat."
"We learned so much since 77. A new generation sought to change the world. Then we sold it to the mall for 19.95. Now 1984 comes in 2009." from "Decayed Decade."
"I'm walking razor edges, you're treading two by fours. I'm leaning over edges to catalog reaper's roars." from "Automatic Minds."
You get the idea. Without ever being too bare boned about what he's doing, Cody combines gritty imagery and sometimes political/social stuff into one pile of puke. Portions of "Lady Death..." were even taken from 55 Miles to the Gas Pump by Annie E. Proulx; Cool stuff.
Father Time, I now accept the end of 2006. Father Time; please hold the end of 2007 until Sabertooth Zombie gives us some more late night venom. If this release and the seven minute epic, "Blood and Cum," from their split 7" with Tiger Uppercut are any indication, 2007 will be the year of the Sabertooth Zombie.
8.8 / 10
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