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ZULU defy expectations on A New Tomorrow

"A New Tomorrow"

Release date: 03 March 2023
ZULU - A New Tomorrow cover
01 March 2023, 20:00 Written by Ims Taylor

For hardcore’s hottest prospects to release a debut record that’s as light as it is heavy. But for ZULU, it just serves as a testament to their extraordinary breadth and extraordinary potential.

All good heavy music knows how to give you a bit of whiplash, jerking between sludgy breakdowns and sky-high riffs, turning the volume and density up to max and halting it for a second just to unleash hell. And ZULU do this too – but with a sonic arsenal reaching far further than you’d expect. They defy expectations and keep you on the edge of your seat throughout A New Tomorrow’s runtime, elevating the quiet between musical batterings by tapping into numerous genres and sounds far beyond their hardcore heart.

The delicate snare, gentle guitars and rap of “We’re More Than This” gives way to the brutal opening throes of “52 Fatal Strikes” with no warning; the dizzying call-and-response roars of “Fakin’ Tha Funk (You Get Did)" attack for barely a minute before devolving into the sophisticated, soulful reverie of “Shine Eternally”, with a comparatively generous three-minute runtime (the longest on the record). Always, ZULU smashes violent, intense, rage-laden noise up against tracks that let their complexities breathe – A New Tomorrow is built upon musical juxtapositions made to evoke the emotional juxtapositions in the lyrics.

A world apart from the rattling screams on heavier tracks, some of the reason for the contrasts ZULU lean so heavily on is revealed in the sparkling tones of “Must I Only Share My Pain” in which a chorus of voices asks the title question over a mirrorball piano. It poses the question – lets us sit with it for a moment – before asking it a little more deeply in sister track “We’re More Than This”, which explores people helping themselves to Black culture for profit, whilst those who created it are relegated to narratives of struggle and pushed down for the same thing others get to flex and benefit from. It’s an idea returned to numerous times across A New Tomorrow’s runtime, a full circle of feelings from the feverish heat of “Divine Intervention” to the meandering, stratospheric spoken-word poetry of “Creme de Cassis”. Even midway through “Music to Driveby”, the riffs shatter and give way to a woozy soul outro.

ZULU have taken something that, after their relentless touring schedule, the world knows they can do to a serious extent: brilliant, vicious, breakneck hardcore. That’s what a lot of their debut album, fittingly, is: dark, forceful, and ready to leave you with ringing ears and shaking bones. But they’ve filled it out with more and thrown it into razor-sharp contrasts: the heavy feels heavier, the light sounds positively ethereal: and you’re left with the impression there’s nothing ZULU can’t do.

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