By: Eric Greenwood
I practically pissed myself with glee about one minute into "Red Giant Sunrise" when I was ambushed by one of the most glorious hardcore riffs I've ever heard in my life. Chris Murray (ex-Cornelius) is Zuexeus, and he plays all the instruments on this self-titled debut himself (vocals, guitar, bass, drums, and sound effects), which is pretty hard to believe because this is some of the tightest, most melodic hardcore punk ever caught on tape. Think Drive Like Jehu sped up and even more precise mixed with Assfactor 4's frenetic energy and assault, and you'll only start to grasp how amazing this album is. And it's just one guy! Seriously, as Zuexeus blasts through my headphones I want nothing more than to carve the band's name into my forehead and go door to door spreading the gospel.
Murray's guitar playing is simply unbelievable. His riffs are at once ear splitting, sharp, and rocking, and he's got the vocal chops to boot. His voice has a tremendous presence. He doesn't just full-throttle, balls to the wall scream like Assfactor 4, but, rather, he mixes it up, sounding agitated and dogged one moment only to come back with a raucous wail the next. He knows exactly how to capitalize on a riff's momentum, and his voice cracks in all the right places. Truly possessed. Everything here is razor sharp too. It's hard to listen to this sitting still. I'm fighting every impulse not to stand up and shout Zuexeus! out the window.
"March Against October" is the album's defining moment, where everything falls perfectly into place. The guitars chug alongside huge, pounding drums, but Murray's lyrics steal the show: "I borrowed a few words for an elegy to better remember you by/your reflection was there when you put your makeup on to play/presentable now for the masquerade where I invited your Jesuit friends to waltz in October/I started a march/I started a fire." His voice explodes as the music stutters in unison on those last two phrases, but that meager description doesn't begin to do such a goose-bump-inducing part any justice. Please, just take my word for it. You will bow before the rock of Zuexeus.
"Summertide" rocks just as hard but with a slightly more accessible edge. The song quickly builds from a simple high-hat introduction to an onslaught of searing harmonics that will boggle your mind. Murray screeches out some impossible notes, and the hair on you neck is bolt upright once again. It's true that I have no idea where his lyrics are coming from, but I love them all the same: "the highway home is serpentine with fruits and labors that carry death/the summer smells bovine where the blue bottles repel and the lightening bugs strike." Right on. I hesitate to use terms like "catchy" and "pop" because you won't understand where I'm coming from in this context; suffice it to say that you will not forget these songs easily, if for no other reason than the fact that you won't be able to stop listening to them.
Some parts do border on metal (as did bits of Cornelius), but the production is low key enough to avoid any confusion that this is hardcore. Nothing preachy or political- it's much more humble than, say, Refused but every bit as rocking (without the glossy production, of course). Murray has a special knack for making every song feel like you're gearing up for a fight. This guy must be jacked up on caffeine to play so relentlessly and accurately (his internal rhythms are like a machine- synching all this up by himself had to be a chore). This is one of the best punk albums I've ever heard, hands down. I realize I'm frothing all over this review, but it's because of how infrequently an album makes me genuinely this excited. Find this album, if you love hardcore punk- you will not regret it.