Written by Barlovv
Zulu – A New Tomorrow
>Los Angeles, USA
>Releasing March 3
“You take and take
But you will never be
Of those amongst a shameless sea
Tell me how long
Until you break“
I stumbled across Zulu quite by accident in 2022, when I heard their album My People…Hold On from 2020 and was absolutely fucking floored by it. There is a ferocity and sincere fucking rage in that album and I was worried I might have missed the boat a little bit as these days two years between albums might mean the band has dissolved or something (which, I realize, is an absolutely bananas way to look at making art). Thank the fucking lord, however, that the promo for A New Tomorrow came across my desk and I knew 2023 was going to be just a little better.
Turns out, as usual, I was correct in my preemptive excitement, because gang – A New Tomorrow fucking goes. Hard.
Let’s start, though, with the cover. A genuinely beautiful piece of art that 100% does not set the expectation for what the album is going to be, and yet somehow that only works to make me like the cover more? There is this real sense of beauty in the cover, and it allows this really interesting space for the ferocity of the music to be beautiful as well. It shows that no culture is just one thing, it is a complex and layered thing that deserves to be taken as a whole. Especially when so many metal and hardcore and punk covers convey aggression and violence, there is a celebratory feel to this and it just really fucking works.
Even the way the album begins seems to be playing with that a little bit. Some really lovely and calm strings and piano open the album intro “Africa”, and it is ended with the vocalist saying – quite plainly – “Ay yo, it’s Zulu in this bitch, what ya’ll n***as on?” before an immediate and hard transition to the crushing instrumentals of “For Sista Humphrey”, with the next voice you hear being some absolutely brutal vocals. It’s such a strong opening to an album that is not finished playing with fusion and genre by any stretch. Even “For Sista Humphrey” closes with what I would describe as almost jazz vocals, but I also don’t know fucking anything about music so that is almost certainly wrong. Regardless, there is a really interesting and shockingly impactful fusion taking place here and I am fucking here for it.
While I don’t want to track-by-track break this down necessarily, the first three songs on the album really do set an incredible tone so let’s talk briefly about “Our Day is Now” – which straddles the line between hardcore punk and death metal, stunning instrumentals and some really fucking great vocals, while also incorporating samples from a reggae performance that I feel like I should know the origin of but I’m also not going to pretend I do. It’s just genuinely such fucking good album, and songs don’t tend to hit over three minutes so you’re going to blast through it – and should do so more than fucking once.
I’ve talked before in reviews about how meaningful it can be to see diversity in a genre of series of genres that is – so often – lacking in that same diversity. Even on the left, RABM, cool side of the genres, it’s a lot of fucking white faces (mine included) and so bands like Zulu and so many others really starting to rise to the surface and get some (if still not enough) attention is so fucking good to see. Particularly, it’s great to see them bring different musical culture and other elements into the genres, rather than simply slotting into the expectation and performance that feels “required” to gain attention or success.
Typically, I try not to take a full quote from a press release and just drop it into a review, but I think this one in particular is well worth taking a look at and really holding. It’s a really beautiful statement about what this album is for this band and so I’m just going to share it with you before we jump into the bottom line:
“While our past material was a more direct approach and very in your face about the treatment of black individuals around the world, I wanted to step away and express the love and beauty of us. That through all the hard things we go through, that’s not just what we are and it doesn’t define us. Our culture is so rich and vast, and I couldn’t even begin to explain all of that. But some of the topics that make this record include unity and love in the community and hope for ourselves.”
THE BOTTOM LINE
No fucking question about it, Zulu’s A New Tomorrow is AOTY material all over. It goes fucking hard, and it is a stunning work of art from a band that needs to be on everyone’s radar if they’re not already.