Adversity and struggle change ŹOOĻ in a deeper way, resulting in a gritty, aggressive and emotional rock-meets-pop single in “Survivor”.
Title: Survivor Release date: 01/06/2022 Label: Lantis Genre: Rock/Pop/Hip-hop
1 - Survivor 2 - No Sacrifice 3 - Survivor (off vocal) 4 - No Sacrifice (off vocal)
Track by track analysis:
1 – Survivor
ZOOL brings back its original aggressive rock sound however with an interesting twist.
“Survivor” is gritty and dirty, with guitars being low and overdriven for the first part of the verses clashing with a clean and emotional rock sound in the latter part.
And this is where things get interesting. You have a gritty sound from the group’s debut days. And you have a danceable and overly clean sound from the group’s most recent endeavors.
And both sounds clash, signally growth, a change of mindset, a want to improve.
The lead-up to the chorus is empty, slowly being populated by triplets on the drums and electric guitars.
When you get to the chorus, overdriven guitars are unleashed, the drums are powerful and the bassline punches its way through the suffocating soundscape.
While most of this instrumental is rock-driven, there are some instances in which pop makes its way to the spotlight. In this chorus, it is the lyrics that are insanely catchy.
After the first chorus, you’ll find yourself singing and chanting along to the song. Making it even catchier is the fact that this chorus is powerfully emotional – something that was missing from ZOOL’s songs in the past couple of years.
The guitar is insanely distorted in the bridge, however only for the first part, slowly giving way to a clean, hopeful soundscape in which atmospheric synths and emotional vocals take over.
The worst is behind their backs. Now, onto looking forward with a renewed mindset and approach to their music.
This is the story that the instrumental alone tells you. Now, if you want to add some context – and I’m not going to spoil it for you – I welcome you to check the game’s 5th story season.
Vocals shift from clean to muffled during the verses, fitting the convoluted story being told in the lyrics. There is sorrow throughout however the chorus shows pride and hopefulness in ZOOL. The group’s unison parts in the chorus will resonate with you due to their intensity and how emotionally charged they are.
2 – No Sacrifice
Dirty synths create a dark atmosphere for “No Sacrifice”, song that is yet again gritty however with a danceable twist.
Atmospheric synths bring that seeping darkness to the spotlight, creating a unique stage for ZOOL.
Overdriven guitar riffs pan left and right during the first part of the verses, leaving the atmospheric synths to set a dark and intense tone for this track. Slowly, the song changes its dynamics, welcoming a tropical-inspired bass beat, and brass stabs.
Smoothly and through a dreamy and airy pre-chorus, the song morphs into the star of this song, the chorus.
The chorus is powerful and addictive, with a groovy danceable beat coexisting with overdriven, muffled guitar riffs. The results are amazing as the chorus is both catchy and insanely groovy.
The 2nd verse changes things around, bringing forth a triplets-driven beat and slow-paced bass drum accent to give way to rapping by the group. That, however, doesn’t last long, as its danceable beat and dirty guitars are back yet again.
On the vocal end, listeners can expect clean singing, awesome harmonies, and rapping, all on top of an electronic rock instrumental that is surprisingly groovy and addictive.
ZOOL brings back its debut sound however adding a new coat of paint on top, result of adversity and maturity.
As a result, the sound in “Survivor” is gritty, dirty, and far from perfect. Those imperfections – not intentionally noticeable in the presentation of previously released songs (the quality of the songs is another thing completely) – are what make ZOOL finally sound “human”, “approachable” and “emotional”.
They no longer are the “perfect” idol group, they went past that in terms of sound and presentation, and “Survivor” appears as the bridge between struggle and adversity and a new beginning.
I found the return of the group’s rock sound to be unexpected however, it is poetically right for it to be back. It’s their essence. And their resolve brought it back.
As far as the quality goes for “Survivor” – the song -, I only have good things to say about it.
The dirty guitar riffs, the pounding drums, the slight nods to electronica that served as a smooth bridge between parts within the song, as well as a stylish contrast between dark and light throughout the song, all feel right.
The chorus is intense and loud but it isn’t overbearing. The vocals have some unison but it is not out-of-place when they happen. Unison was needed to convey those emotions by ZOOL and, as a result, the chorus leaves an impact.
And if you like rock music, you’re treated to a distorted, overdriven guitar solo that screams to you. This melodic yet destructive sound fits ZOOL perfectly.
Wrapping up this single is “No Sacrifice”, a song that goes down the same line and tone as “Survivor” however with a bigger focus on the “celebratory” part of this new, scary journey for the group.
Teamwork on the vocal end is something that will stand out, with harmonies and unison parts being particularly interesting to pay attention to.
The sound is a mix of old and new for ZOOL. It has a gritty rock edge yet it is incredibly groovy and danceable due to the addition of electronica to the mix.
All in all, ZOOL’s “Survivor” is a massive upgrade over “einsatZ”, showcasing a renewed resolve and passion for music. It represents as well a tasteful change to their sound, bringing back gritty rock with a pinch of dark atmospheric electronica on top.
“Survivor” is the group’s best single released to date.
“Survivor” is available for purchase at CDJAPAN.
“Survivor” is available for streaming on Spotify.
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