Recently my girlfriend had put on a random playlist. Most of it passed me by unnoticed, but one song made me look up. I am not even sure what caught my attention, but I do know that for one song I was completely focused on music. You guessed it, this band was Znous. I noted down the name on my seemingly endless list called “music I need to check someday”.
Some bands that are on that list are destined to be there for an eternity. That one Znous song left an impression, so the next day I just had to listen to what the rest of their material sounded like. I immediately bought their entire discography on bandcamp. That is: two EP’s and a couple of singles, so don’t be too impressed. I do hope I can convince you to check out this band with this very late review.
Znous is a band from Tunesia (that’s a first for me). Znous means "species" in tunisian slang and is a word often used as an offense against people who deviate from the norms. It seems the band adopted the title to wear it with pride. They released their debut EP Znousland 1 in 2019. By the end of the summer of 2020 the time was right for their second EP: Znousland 2.
In the short bio on their website (where I also learned the meaning of their name) they call themselves a hardcore punk and metal band. That is a very broad description that I will try to unravel a bit for you. I get a big Sepultura vibe from this material (Znousland 1 ends with a cover of “Refuse, Resist” which might colour my view a bit). I am reminded mostly of the first few albums with Derrick Green. That era of Sepultura merged that groove thrash sound with a hardcore vibe. This vibe is very present on this EP as well. I am also reminded of Ministry and then especially Filth Pig. There is a certain industrial vibe in Znous’ sound. To finish it of Znous sprinkles northern African music on this explosive mix. This includes a rhythm section that dares to differ from the usual punk or metal beat and adding a lot of percussion, but (for punk and metal) unusual instruments are not shunned.
This EP ends with “Khoroto”, a cover of Gultrah Sound System. It has a very different vibe than the rest of the material. Almost like Znous and Russkaja had a love baby (albeit one that didn’t inherit the Russian vibe). Not too strange considering Gultrah Sound System is a Tunesian reggae band. If I make it sound like I knew Gultrah Sound System before I heard this cover, I will admit right here that I had to look this up. I also admit that I was a bit surprised to hear what kind of band is covered here. The end result is a real banger though.
Something very punk is the lyric department. Those are very important, Znous is a band with a message. All lyrics are sung in Tunesian, but the band offers an English translation on their website, including an explanation of the lyrics. Since I don’t speak Tunesian, their translations were very welcome.
This EP is not just explosive, it is also something that draws you in and doesn’t let you go until the EP is finished. Check it out. It is available on tape, but if you buy it on Bandcamp you get three bonus tracks (which should have been part of the EP anyway, but who am I to decide this for them?).