Back in my early years of getting into heavy music, the attitude and rebellious nature of punk rock had a greater influence on me than heavy metal did. Over the years though, the small number of punk bands still operating weren’t enough to satisfy my hunger and thus began my foray into heavy metal and its sub genres. Listening to Ottawa, Canada based Zex reminds me of those moments where I stood pumping my clenched fist in the air, shouting along to the chorus sections of many a punk band. Their debut ‘Fight for Yourself’ tips a hat to the late 70’s punk culture while at the same time subscribing to the pop catchiness.
This is a record that belongs in a period when The Clash and Sex Pistols were ruling the airways. The album begins with the title track, which shows subtle influences from traditional heavy metal. Zex show they are quite adept at making punk anthems, the kind that has the capacity to have entire arenas shouting along. Tracks like ‘Wild Blood’, ‘Break Free’ and ‘Savage City’ are testaments to the previous statement.
The vocalist Gretchen Steele has a very coarse and raw voice. Comparisons can be drawn between her vocals and those of that like Joan Jett and Debbie Harry. Her voice suits the rebellious punk attitude. The music as can be expected, is not complex but the songwriting makes sure that the tracks are memorable and catchy.
There is also a pop element in the mix, which becomes evident in tracks like ‘Wanderlust’, ‘XXX’ and ‘On Our Own’. Dont let that scare you though. The music might be easily accessible, but is not dumb in any way as that ‘fuck you’ attitude is ever present. This record is a no brainer if all you want is to have a good time and drunkenly sing along to some rebel anthems.
The simple songwriting, the lyrics, the gang chant choruses and the vocal delivery harken back to the era of the punk. So in a way, this is Zex saying punk is not so dead afterall. ‘Fight for Yourself’ is a fun record that takes almost no effort to get into. Though I would like my punk rock to sound a bit more aggressive and pissed off, this record made sure I had fun. And for that, I like it.