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The core of EZoo is comprised of singing legend Graham Bonnet and guitar wizard Dario Mollo. Although a new band through the EZoo name, the origins of this project can be traced back to over a decade ago, when the two men toured in 2004 under the guise of Electric Zoo (the second time they'd performed live together, in fact; the first being three years earlier in a different act). Mollo states in press blurb that they decided to write an album following the 2004 tour, although busy schedules delayed the recording of such, save for some demo tracks. Apparently, Bonnet started listening to the demos again, years later, and got his manager to contact Mollo with a view to recording the material good and proper. So, new songs were written; drummer Roberto Gualdi and bassist Guido Block recruited from the original Electric Zoo lineup; keys/bass man Dario Patti brought into the fold; and the band took shape under the abbreviated EZoo moniker.

Interestingly, press sheet rhetoric would have you believe this is music of yore, stylistically speaking, "straight from the golden age of hard rock." I guess the general aesthetic is one of anachronism. Style-wise, this is music from another time; from decades ago. But I'd say that it veers into metal territory more often than hard rock. Given the parameter pushing proclivities of metal over the years where some bands have taken its heaviness to whole new sonic extremes, a corollary is that erstwhile NWOBHM acts, for example, now get referred to (mainstream press are the main culprits here), as rock. It's almost as if an inherent immunity to classic metal's once considered heaviness has evolved over time. Hell, I've incessantly heard Metallica referred to as a "rock band"... surely the clue to their origins and perpetuated metal aesthetic is in their very name. Anyway, make no mistake, EZoo is, at core, a retro metal album, with some hard rock elements.

Driving the metal dynamic along, throughout the playing time, is the resonant riffing and virtuosic widdlings of Mollo. This guy can play! There's even a short instrumental piece cheekily thrown in early doors, with the melodically beautiful 'The Flight of the Sapini', where he gets to demonstrate his solo chops. In fact, the entire album is all very melodically catchy, with hooks and a few melodic twists embedded within unexpected chord progressions. And a lot of groove! Yep, Mollo riffs away with naturally inclined grooves and, in places, a palm-muted impetus (listen to opener 'You and Your Wallet' for an example of the latter). On the heavy scale, and bearing in mind the guitar-centric nature of many of the compositions and their arrangements, a good comparison point would be an album like Yngwie Malmsteen's 'Eclipse', with some songs a tad heavier, and some on a par.

What of the singing? Bonnet's voice occasionally wavers in his delivery, with sporadic signs of wear and weakness discernible in his limits. His gargled vocals over parts of 'Motorbyke' are a prime example. His voice has also been layered in certain places and fed through some kind of filter that sounds... well, just a tad superficial. However, these criticisms are negligible and merely fleeting observations; none of which detract from what is, in essence, a vocal performance where Bonnet's evident passion and generally refined control of his voice shine through. It's the perfect pairing for the compositions.

Covers of Rainbow tracks 'Eyes of the World' and 'Since You've Been Gone' are, perhaps, a tad superfluous in proceedings, although executed well enough to please established fans. It's the original compositions that are the real attraction here, though, and these are admirable cuts of invigorating metal nostalgia, full of vocal and guitar nourishment.
Review by Mark Holmes
2nd June 2017
1) You are Your Wallet
2) The Flight of the Sapini
3) C'est la Vie
4) Guys from God
5) Feeding the Beast
6) Eyes of the World
7) Colder Than Cool
8) Too High To Be Falling
9) Motorbyke
10) Since You've Been Gone
11) Don't Look Back; 12) CODA
"...admirable cuts of invigorating metal nostalgia, full of vocal and guitar nourishment."