Way of the Zulu is the debut release of London 5 piece Zulu, and seeing as the Z-button on my laptop is on it’s last legs the very act of writing this review is shaping up to be an emotionally testing experience. Released as a limited edition run of 100 cassettes (my tape-player is also held together by duct tape and prayers,) the feel and ethos behind this album seems to be very much a celebration of the DIY roots of punk & garage rock. Indeed the influence of bands such Dead Kennedy’s and The Stooges coarse through the EPs 9 short and visceral tracks.

It’s immediately apparent that this is a set of tracks that were recorded in very much an old-school, 5 guys in a room style, with boxy drums and a frenetic tempo that compliment the abrasive punk-rock sentiment of the songs. The first track ‘Annoying Song’ opens with one band member pointing out that the rest of the group are all “fucking pricks” before lurching into a discordant guitar dirge reminiscent of a hidden track from a nirvana album, which the builds in pace and morphs purposefully into a taut, three chord guitar blast that’s laden with yelping vocals that sound like Joe strummer losing his mind and hitting himself repeatedly in the head. It’s a pretty cool way to open an album

Yet despite this apparent nihilistic craziness, the songs are played with a purpose and precision that contributes to the searing energy throughout. ‘Shivers down my Spine’ has a frantic riff that’s tight as a drum but with an off kilter and deliberately confrontational guitar meltdown at the end. Indeed the band seem to take rock and roll templates such as the Bo Diddley-style stomp of ‘The Book’ and then delight in turning the pace and bile up to 11.

However, whilst the energy and enthusiasm of Zulu is commendable and indeed enjoyable, the album does maybe lack something in terms of variety. The songs all seem to inhabit the same idealistic space, and this lessens their impact towards the end of the set, and indeed lyrically the album is not as strong as it is musically. This is a shame as some of the riffs are overshadowed by some rather cumbersome wordsmithing, where too many words are shoehorned into a line, and not always good ones, such as is evident on the less than impressive ‘Bahnhoff Zoo’. It’s these problems that stop it from being a great punk-rock album and show that whilst the band has some good ideas and throws them on the table with some serious intent, they still have some room to grow and develop. Hopefully I’ll have a new laptop and tape-player by then!