Album Review

Zevious, 'After the Air Raid'

November 30, 2009

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Zevious After the Air Raid
ESSENTIAL “Where’s the Captain?’’

Zevious is devious. It may look like your everyday electric jazz trio (guitar, bass, drums), but Zevious is anything but typical. Guitarist Mike Eber, bassist Johnny DeBlase, and drummer Jeff Eber give off the aroma of jazz-flavored metal, but their sophistication - odd-metered rhythms, unexpected harmonic ideas - slyly bubbles up. Their influences range wide: There’s a little bit of fusion forebears John McLaughlin and Tony Williams’s Lifetime in here, some electric free improv in the vein of Nels Cline and Last Exit, and nu-metal a la Rage Against the Machine. Compositionally and rhythmically, though, their next of kin are modern acoustic improvisers, folks like Vijay Iyer and Ken Vandermark. The interplay between the Eber cousins is central. The drummer states the beat and then finds a way to play around it, while the guitarist first plays the “right chords’’ and then harmonizes against them, often in ways that are deliberately unsettling. Even when they turn it down - as they do on the title tune, an eerie duet between guitar and bass - the music is both frightening and beautiful. (Out now) -- STEVE GREENLEE