Infected is the 4th album from Central Valley, California Horror/Death metal collective Zombie Death Stench.
This is my first time listening to ZDS, so I had little to no expectations going into this, using just the vague band description to form any pre-conceived notion about the music. I’ve always appreciated the “horror” side of music genres, from metal to psychobilly and everything in between (with the Misfits being one of my favorite bands for most of my life). Thus began my journey to see if Zombie Death Stench would linger in my mind as effectively as the stench of dead zombies would in my nostrils.
Infected begins with a captivating intro track titled “Outbreak” before kicking into “Godless Dawn.” A couple of songs in, I was starting to theorize about how the remaining album was going to sound, and my theory wasn’t entirely wrong.
ZDS’s strength lies in their ability to write tasty, groove-laden riffs that really keep your head nodding, in addition to some tasteful leads and solos. Unfortunately the zombie is in the details, and the details in this case lie in the overall execution. Infected lacks some desperately needed dynamics in the compositions and performances. Each song chugs along rather predictably, with little variance to make the songs memorable. “Boneless Grave” takes on more of a rock feel, with guttural vocals which I felt were stronger than their more metallic outputs.
Drums and vocals stayed fairly linear in delivery, and followed too closely in step with the rhythm guitar; this regretfully diminishes any punch they could have, and doesn’t really add to the songs.
There are great moments on Infected, and their use of synths does add a nice atmospheric touch, but it’s just not enough for me. I feel like a lot of the right elements are present, however they need to be refined a little more to have ZDS really step out of the pack.
I’m curious to check out their previous work to compare how they’ve evolved over the years, at the very least I think they’re on the right track with Infected.
Written by Paul Ablaze
*edited by Kate Erickson