The gathering darkness

The word zombie is pretty descriptive and immediately conjures a specific image: that of the living dead. Zombi the band, however, consists of two living humans from Pittsburgh, Pa., who will be playing tonight at Food Hole along with Orthrelm, Get Hustle, and Jonny X and the Groadies.

Zombi makes music that is inspired by the horror movies they got their name from. They have the same name as the Italian release of the original “Day of the Dead” movie, and they sound a whole lot like soundtrack composer Goblin.

Zombi’s music is driven by an immense amount of synthesizers, as well as drums and bass guitar. Similarities in sound are obvious between Goblin and Zombi, but the sounds differ in a distinct way – Zombi makes songs not soundtracks. The songs they make are very well written, walking a fine line between prog, metal and ambient music.

What is really impressive about Zombi is that their sound is full and complex, yet only composed by two people. Both drummer A.E. Paterra and bassist Steve Moore play their respective instruments and a host of synthesizers.

Zombi’s songs vary widely. They have shorter, more rocking songs such as “Orion” off their debut album Cosmos. Longer, extended songs also feature prominently in Zombi’s musical offerings. These songs have powerful, heavy parts as well as longer ambient interludes that point most obviously to the influence of horror soundtracks on their music.

Zombi will have a tour-only EP, Digitalis, that serves as teaser for their forthcoming album, Surface to Air on Relapse records. Both releases promise to extend Zombi’s signature sound even further away from their horror soundtrack influences and more into a domain all their own.

Orthrelm, another two-piece band, is also playing tonight at Food Hole. Orthrelm’s music may be even further removed from traditional rock or metal than Zombi’s, but the main focus of Orthrelm is a vicious and unrelenting guitar attack, backed by an odd and challenging drumbeat. After hearing Orthrelm, a friend once described them as “crazy, evil carnival music – on speed,” and that assessment may not be far off the mark.

Guitarist Mick Barr is a one-man guitar wrecking crew, or put more succinctly, “the dude shreds.” Orthrelm’s newest album, OV on Ipecac records, is a 45-minute departure from what could be considered “traditional” for them. Gone are the spastic, arrhythmic guitar wanderings of the past, and in their place are a series of repetitive ultra-riffs. Apparently Orthrelm decided a change and experiment in sound was necessary, because stagnation breeds boredom. Hearing Orthrelm play live should be a mixture of ear pain and headaches, no matter what they decide to play. What is sure is that Orthrelm will bring some form of their extreme guitar experimentalism to Portland tonight.


Orthrelm, Zombi, Get Hustle, and Jonny X & The Groadies tonight at Food Hole. Food Hole is located at 20 N.W. Third Ave. Tickets are $6, all ages.