Saturday, November 12, 2016

ZiX-Tides Of The Final War

Pure Steel Records

Formed in 2010 by bassist/composer Ziad Bardawil, ZiX is a female-fronted traditional heavy metal band from in Beirut, Lebanon. Yes, I am every bit as shocked as all of you are that such a thing actually exists! It is possible that I am not as up to date on things as I would like to be, but I was under the impression that certain parts of the Middle East were not exactly "hip" to this kind of thing. I mean classic heavy metal is rebellious enough, but to then go and add a strong female front-woman to the whole mix? That takes a tremendous amount of courage to pull off in some small-minded places across the globe! To that end I give major props to ZiX and I really do hope that this is just the first of many like-minded bands to kick down the doors of oppression! Especially if they are as epic as this lot is!! With lead vocals courtesy of the AMAZING Maya Khairallah (wow, is she ever great!), ZiX shoots a straight arrow into the hearts of heavy metal maniacs with their N.W.O.B.H.M.-influenced/eighties metal-inspired traditional heavy metal debut here. The album has ten tracks in all it clocks in at over forty two minutes. During that time frame you can expect to be treated to well-fashioned numbers that are as technically sound as they are powerful. In addition to skilled guitarist Juan Carrizo and guest drummer Rino (ex-Manowar), "Tides of the Final War" features appearances by the likes of  Tony Martin (Black Sabbath), Blaze Bayley (Iron Maiden), Paul Di'Anno (Iron Maiden), and Ross The Boss (ex-Manowar, Death Dealer). Just released at the tail end of October, "Tides of the Final War" picks right up where the group's 2012 EP, "The Warwhore", left off. Several tracks from the EP have made it onto this expertly-produced album, but they feature new arrangements for a improved sound. Speaking of all things sound-related, "Tides of the Final War" was recorded in the Vegas View studios, Nevada, by 7x Grammy-winning producer Steve Thompson! For those of you who do not know the name, Steve Thompson was partly responsible for the Guns 'N Roses' classic "Appetite For Destruction" and he has worked with everyone from Anthrax to Ziggy Marley!! Of course he was also responsible for mixing Metallica's 1988 album "...And Justice for All", but we won't hold that against him! Mastered by Maor Appelbaum (Sepultura, Yngwie), "The Tides of the Final War" was remixed and remastered at QuSoundStudio in Germany by Michael Kusch. From a production standpoint, ZiX's full-length album sounds great. Granted, I already said that much, but it is worth repeating. The production really helps ZiX stick out, musically-speaking. But as the mix? That's a different story. Unfortunately there are more than a few occasions where the vocals get lost. Sure, "Tides Of The Final War" has a powerful metallic presence, but great music works a lot better when you have great vocals to compliment. When Maya Khairallah's supreme voice falls off the radar everything suffers. A bit of tweaking might be in order for next time around. And yes, I do want there to be a next time for this extremely talented band! There is just so much to love about ZiX and their first album!! This is classic heavy metal at it's all time best and there is little doubt that this one band that will only evolve and mature as they grow. After listening to this album I can see why people like Steve Thompson took special notice of this up-and-coming band.

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