Starting off with a section of feedback and the plugging in of a guitar, Cork’s Zhi Ren announce themselves with ‘Hypocrisy’, as a barrage of down-tuned riffs, guttural vocals and double kicks are thrown at you with reckless abandon.
The band came together from different groups around Cork.
Bassist Eibhlín and Guitarist Pavol had played together in bands previously but found themselves writing heavier material. They quickly recruited drummer Christy and the line-up was complete with vocalist Chris (who also performs with Pethrophia).
Even during a first listen it’s difficult not to find yourself head banging along to the main riff. It all leads up to a breakdown where a swirling vocal effect gives the section a claustrophobic feel.
Second song ‘Jinn’ starts off as more of a down tempo approach with an almost spoken word verse. This is a much more groove oriented track with the verses being reminiscent of Korn.
The middle section starts with some neat cymbal work from Christy and crescendos into a real stomper of a section.
(Photography by Olga Kuzmenko)
Halfway through and I would say one of the highlights of the E.P. would be Chris’ vocals, which set the pace of the other instruments around him. The strength and ferociousness of his delivery is unrelenting and you can really feel the anger in his words.
Following on, track three ‘Ghosts of Impermanence’ brings a syncopated rhythm on the guitar and has Eibhlín's bass shining through as the main instrument.
After the 2:30 mark, the phrasing of the vocals and the way it rhymes with the other instruments is a real stand out point and I would love to hear it in a live context.
The slick production really adds to the feel of the whole E.P. Having a more polished sounding record gives a better sense of professionalism and adds more replay value. What I find very impressive is that the E.P. was recorded and mixed by the band’s own guitarist Pavol in his home studio in Cork.
The only outsourcing done was mastering by Aidan Cunningham of Forbidden Zone Studio.
Last song 'Burrow', showcases a different side to the band with a lot of synth work and electronic effects in the background. The change of guitar tone with the addition of some chorus and delay effects on the guitars during the chorus breaks up the song nicely and is an unexpected twist. This would be my personal favourite of the foursongs.
(Photography by Olga Kuzmenko)
This is a four song E.P. with no frills, it just gets to the point. It’s clear to me that the band had a definite focus in what they wanted to achieve with this E.P. and overall gives a good indication of what is to come. After speaking to the band, I know that they are already hard at work on a follow up and intend to play some big shows here in Ireland and afar.
Zhi Ren strike me as an ambitious band that have a lot of experience in the local scene and are doing all the right things to get themselves noticed around the country. A band that I would be very eager to see live to see how they translate in front of audience, I will be paying close attention to them over the next few months!
The only question that remains to be answered is: Who Fucked the Monkey?!
Check Zhi Ren out live on the following dates:
3rd of November |Cellar Bar, Galway | w/ Humanity Check and Jenova.
26th of January | An Spailpín Fánach, Cork | w/ Bloodshot Dawn.
ABOUT THE WRITER AND REVIEWER
Ronan Murphy is a drummer and producer from Dublin, currently in his 4th year in BIMM .
His band Call To Arms have recently finished their debut album, which is due for release in early 2018.
Check out their video ‘The Reaper Never Sleeps’ HERE.