Eagles of Death Metal
2 October 2015
Eagles of Death Metal are a strange breed of band. Anyone unfamiliar with frontman Jesse Hughes and drummer/producer Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age might think them a couple of sleazy rednecks with a penchant for lewd puns. They wouldn’t be entirely wrong. Indeed, these guys seem to pop up out of nowhere every few years with another album full of sexed-up, fuzz-balling guitar insania. Most bands carefully build their music from the foot of the mountain; these guys erupt all over you.
It has been seven years since their last album Heart On was released and many appreciated it as slightly more, dare I say it, “considered” body of work to their previous stuff (the title both suggests and rejects this), with surprisingly serious odes to masturbation and lyrical elaboration on their urges to “get chicks”. Zipper Down is the duo’s fourth album, and make no mistake, the band is certainly not heading along the thoughtful song-making curve; they’re still very much wearing their outrageous sound on the front of their belt buckles.
“in an independent study, four out of three doctors say Zipper Down is an eargasm trapped inside a crazerbeam.”
Before we get down to business, let’s build some hype. When asked in an interview the significance of the name “Zipper Down”, Hughes affirmed that it is a “way of life; some people prefer zipper up, we prefer zipper down.” Homme said of the new release, “in an independent study, four out of three doctors say Zipper Down is an eargasm trapped inside a crazerbeam.” Hughes has also gone on to make statements such as, “this album will cure cancer”, “the first three songs on this album saved the lives of ten thousand Chinese children from starvation” and, “this album is like John Holmes’ dick, but even better.” Wow! This kind of relentless flippancy seems a bit like peacocking to distract from the music at first, but really, in taking the mick, they transmit a sense of modesty; a refreshing thing in an industry that takes itself far too seriously. And the best part is, EoDM have made an album that they shouldn’t be modest about.
Zipper Down sounds as punchy and raw as ever, and in places feels decidedly dancey. The opening track, Complexity, melds a bumbling bovine bass line with country-style guitar licks and rodeo-ready vocals, with Hughes semi-ironically squawking “my socks and underwear, I like to keep them clean, it’s so easy without complexity.” The second track, ‘Silverlake (K.S.O.F.M)’, is a well-crafted song-come-inside-joke about a place called Silverlake, and is a prime example of a neat rock n’ roll track; tidy in it’s production and piss-taking in its nature. Josh Homme’s drumming is tight, whilst maintaining that jerky, erratic quality as though he only picked up a pair of drumsticks that morning. ‘Got a Woman’ is a furious flurry of southern rock, balanced by the smooth hooks of its follow up, ‘I Love You All The Time’. From there on, there are some good ol’ foot stompers that lead up to a cover of Duran Duran’s ‘Save a Prayer’. This is well done – substituting synth with Homme and Hughes’ wails and dirty vintage guitar tones melds EoDM’s character with a melodic classic, creating a ghostly end result. The rest does feel a touch like filler, but it’s all sound song writing.
Once again, EoDM have made an album that ticks all of the boxes for fans of the genre. It’s not rock genius, but it’s by no means rock dirt. They’ve kept and developed their unique style and honed their song writing. For such an explosive and spontaneous band, they have produced something quite steadfast and reliable, probably thanks to the experience of the rock behemoth himself, Josh Homme. Some would perhaps criticise Zipper Down’s “sameyness” in terms of sound, but this misses the point: Eagles of Death Metal are not a band that you can comment on intellectually about the interesting chord progressions. They should be enjoyed in the heat of the moment, with a cold beer in one hand and a hot babe in the other. Here’s to that.