Alongside High Roller recording art'sts High Spirits label mat's Z??l are one of the most promising acts of the new wave of American heavy metal bands. Following their debut album "Out of Time" and the limited edition 7" single "Howl of the Wolf" their new record "To the Frontlines" is going to take the metal scene by storm. It is their most potent effort by far. "We think it's better than the last one, we are excited that it's coming soon", comments Z??l's bassist Bob. "We feel like people are gonna like the album. It comes out way behind schedule but it was definitely worth the wait. We recorded the entire thing ourselves, with the guidance of Chris Black. It's called 'To the Frontlines' and consists of nine songs, cover art by our friend Brad Moore again. The cover is a lot different than the first, but maybe the same style as it is done by Brad again. Musically it all still sounds 100% Z??l. A little more varied, a little faster, a little slower."
"To the Frontlines" (including a re-recorded version of the fant'stic single B-Side "Skullsplitter") is indeed a mighty fine album. Although Z??l come from the United Stat's of America, their style is very much based on classic European heavy metal. In the past, they have recorded cover versions of some obscure New Wave Of Brit'sh Heavy Metal songs, e.g. "Over the Wall" by Badger and "On the Run" by Crucifixion (plus "High Treason" by Virtue for that matter). On the new album Z??l are strictly sticking to their original material though. Guitarist Mike "The Butcher" Bushur explains why: "We have done our fair share of covers. Songs by Virtue, Badger and Crucifixion for example. There were a few other good ones also, and some we talked about but never did. We've done covers of Riot, Persian Risk, Virtue, Mot?rhead, Danzig, Blitzkrieg, and others live. Those two you mentioned are the only ones recorded. I don't'see us doing too many more covers. We have so many riffs and parts of songs still awaiting proper development in practices that we don't really want to set them aside for cover songs. The early intention of this band was to do a bunch of N.W.O.B.H.M. covers but now it'seems like a trendy thing to do, so we will just'stick to our own songs."
After their first album Z??l played some live shows in the U.S. Bassist Bob confirms: "Yeah, we did a little nine day run with High Spirits and Chapstik. It was our longest jaunt on the road, we don't get to do more than three day runs very often. But it was fun as can be. We sold a ton of merch and we were the tight'st we have ever been. Hard to remember the details besides the overall sense of fun. And it was HOT. Morgan got'sick as hell and couldn't hardly eat, so that meant a bunch of free food for me." After the debut album "Out of Time" Z??l released a 7" single entitled "Howl of the Wolf". "'Howl of the Wolf' was a killer single", finds Mike. "We had a ton if fun recording it in a professional studio, it is the only time we have ever done that together, everything else we recorded ourselves in various houses. I honestly did not keep up with reviews of the single. We still have plenty of copies left'so take that as you will. The artwork was exactly what we wanted. The songs are strong. 'Howl of the Wolf' is exclusive to the 7" and 'Skullsplitter' is an early version of the song. It will be much different on the new album. The usual Z??l fans seemed to like it and maybe we had a few others take notice as well. It's a good 7"." Lately, High Roller Records has become something of a springboard for some bands: While Heaven Wept were signed by Nuclear Blast whereas Portrait, In Solitude and Ram all inked a deal with Metal Blade ? Will Z??l be the next band to move on to other shores? Mike does not think so at all: "We already feel way bigger than what we deserve. It's mind-blowing that people outside of our state have even heard of us. I wouldn't look for us to sign with any majors, or bigger labels. It would take a lot for us to leave the situation we are in right now and we would need much more exposure to even consider a look by those labels. But why would we want to leave something that has been so good to us when we we are nothing? Those labels should dig a little harder instead of letting the small labels do the hard work. If anything, we may start releasing future albums on our own label, Onslaught Of Steel Records. But we'll see if there are future albums in us. I hope there are ..."
Although Z??l are pretty well-known in some major US cities in the Midwest (St. Louis and Chicago for example), their main fan base is in Europe. Their second longplayer "To the Frontlines" is sure to make them even more friends on the continent. Matthias Mader