Sound: Zebrahead doesn't skimp in terms of quantity on it's latest CD/DVD Phoenix, which features 16 songs and a bonus DVD (complete with several music videos, home videos, and live concert footage). If there is a word to describe the entire package, fun comes to mind. It's a fairly simplistic adjective, but that's exactly the sense you get in every track. At times that fun factor approaches hyperactivity, but the 4th studio release definitely relays the energy you get at a Zebrahead live show. There are both hits and misses on Phoenix, with the last half delivering the most impressive material. During that time you get tracks like All For None And None For All, which takes the biggest turn from their usual musical style. Rather than Zebrahead playing it's usual blend of pop punk, we get a fantastic surf number. It also features one of guitarist Greg Bergdorf's most impressive solos, combining the best of both worlds: speed and melody.
Throughout the CD, guitarists Bergdorf and Matty Lewis (who also covers the melodic singing) lay down some great harmonized guitar work, but not until the final track does it come close to being Maiden-esque. The introduction to Sorry, But Your Friends Are Hot captures the Maiden spirit perfectly, and at the entire rest of the track feels cohesive in comparison to earlier songs. Zebrahead has so many different musical aspects that the album can feel chaotic at times, but Sorry But Your Friends Are Hot melds all of players' talents together. Zebrahead deserves credit for trying to combine such varied styles, and it works a good deal of the time. The Juggernauts features U2-like guitar work throughout, while rapper/vocalist Ali Tabatabaee gives his best Zach de la Rocha vibe to the track. It's a fascinating combo, although it's probably a track that will need to grow on you. There is good deal of the pop punk and nu metal genres on Phoenix as well, and Hit The Ground actually sounds extremely similar to early Linkin Park. Zebrahead doesn't necessarily break the mold on Phoenix, but they never let up on injecting every song with as much energy they can muster. // 7
Lyrics: With titles like Mike Dexter Is A God, Mike Dexter Is A Role Model, Mike Dexter Is An Asshole and Two Wrongs Don't Make A Right, But Three Rights Make a Left, you'd be safe to assume that Zebrahead won't make things dull in the lyrical department. I don't think the lyrics tend to match the hype of the titles, but the band still does think outside the box with lyrics like I heard opposites attract; So you're stuck with me; I'm like Jack Kerouac; On the road for weeks. A track like Hell Yeah! tends to feel like it's trying awfully hard to be an anthem (Let's Go! We can't live forever; One note! The louder the better; So Let's Go! We're in this together; Can't you hear me?), but the band doesn't get stuck in that trap for the entire record. // 8
Overall Impression: When Zebrahead pulls in other styles besides pop punk, the band is at its best. There is plenty of energy in every song, but that can only take things so far. So hearing a little ska here and a little surf there definitely tends to make things more interesting. There are 16 tracks in all, which means that there will undoubtedly be a little something for everyone -- particularly faithful Zebrahead fans. You'll also be receiving a bonus DVD featuring a collection of home videos, music videos and live footage taken from the Broadcast To The World Tour. The home videos tend to be edited in a short-and-sweet manner, so don't expect a lot of in-depth interviews. You do get a good dose of the band's sense of humor in any case, and that's actually just as entertaining as the CD portion. // 7