Album review: ZULU – A New Tomorrow

Hotly-tipped Los Angeles wrecking crew ZULU blow minds on forward-thinking debut full-length, A New Tomorrow.

Album review: ZULU – A New Tomorrow
Olly Thomas

Just like the human race itself, ZULU’s debut album begins in Africa. Specifically, a track called Africa which, with its twinkling piano and sweeping strings, opens proceedings on an astral jazz vibe – not a move you’d normally expect from anyone routinely tagged as a powerviolence band.

So when, after 68 seconds, For Sista Humphrey brings in the crunching guitars, you might reasonably expect business as usual to resume. You would, however, be wrong, as A New Tomorrow continually throws musical curveballs, incorporating soul, reggae and funk elements into ZULU’s heavyweight blasts. So the head-nod hardcore of Music To Driveby gives way to an extended Curtis Mayfield sample, while ferocious closer Who Jah Bless No One Curse concludes with an interpolation of Bob Marley’s Small Axe. Friends and collaborators appear too, with Soul Glo’s Pierce Jordan and Playytime’s Obioma Ugonna making a memorable contribution to Where I’m From.

This scattershot approach, often sounding like a mixtape or a particularly eclectic DJ set, won’t be for everyone, and it’s easy to imagine hardcore traditionalists skipping mellow instrumental Shine Eternally. However, each element here is a crucial part of the bigger picture, from the fury of Our Day Is Now and Divine Intervention to the conscious hip-hop jam We’re More Than This. Poetic spoken word piece Créme de Cassis, with its insistence on discussing blackness in terms of positivity rather than pain, is as powerful as any of A New Tomorrow’s riff-driven, mosh-pit-bothering moments.

Taken as a whole, this debut is both a glorious celebration of black musical history and a powerful charge into its future – a future which, on the basis of the flair and conviction displayed here, will feature ZULU right at its forefront.

Verdict: 4/5

For fans of: Soul Glo, Gulch, Trash Talk

A New Tomorrow is released on March 3 via Flatspot Records

Read this: ZULU: “People expect us to be angry, but there’s a lot of joy that we emit”

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