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Wrangler Brutes - Zulu

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Artist: Wrangler Brutes

Album: Zulu

Label: Kill Rock Stars

Review date: Mar. 3, 2005

Boasting members from Born Against, Nazti Skins, and Men’s Recovery Project, Wrangler Brutes wax nostalgic for the west coast thrash/punk of Suicidal Tendencies and The Vandals, all while incorporating some common influences – Aggression and Hell Awaits era Slayer - with some uncommon ones – most notably the angular guitar style of the Magic Band’s Zoot Horn Rollo.

West Coast thrash is a genre defined by its breakneck drumming, throat punishing vocals, and sprinting guitar lines. Wrangler Brutes behave accordingly, adding bits of humor here and there with vocal cameos from ex-Circle Jerk Keith Morris, and Circus Lupus howler Chris Thomson. These moments do little to empower the music, distracting instead from the inventive guitar work.

Some of Zulu is engaging, especially when guitarist Andy Coronado moves free of the one-dimensional rhythms placed at his feet by drummer Brooks Headly. On “Things Get Fruity,” Coronado does just that, slicing around the bassline with repetitively ominous figures that splash into a flurry of surf guitar tropes. “Chaos Collides,” with its Black Flag-like bassline, and spoken-word vitriol, a la the aforementioned Morris, again benefits from Coronado’s flashy style, which pushes the song into the realm of the fist-pumping anthem; might have been truly spectacular if it were allowed to develop a bit more. Zulu’s best track is the eponymous “Wrangler Brutes,” a 31-second blast of adrenaline. Sounding more like Lip Cream and the Garlic Boys trying to simultaneously cover Naked City’s hardcore opus Torture Garden, this track demonstrates thatWrangler Brutes have the ability to create extraordinary music that moves free of the bland thrash moniker, they just need to spend less time being satisfied operating within the genre.

By Stewart Voegtlin

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