Having released a debut album entitled ‘Bridges’ some years back under his own name, Melbourne singer/songwriter Michael Rinaldi has resurrected the name of the garage band he fronted over a decade ago. Though Zakytuss is essentially his brainchild, he’s joined on this effort by ex-members of Degrees of Separation, Markus Saastamoinen (bass/keys/production) and Beau Karnaghan (drums/percussion), with Rinaldi handling the six string and lead vocal work.
I’ve followed this guy’s career pretty closely over the years so I’m in a good spot to commentate on this new release… and lo it is good!
This record is a definite improvement over ‘Bridges’. The production is polished, the songs more compact & focused and the instrumental performances much tighter & refined. This is to be expected really… the album has been three years in the making, whereas its predecessor was literally produced in three days!
At its heart, ‘Don’t Forget the Days’ is a rock record. With an ever expanding lexicon of musical genres to confuse us, it’s refreshing to see a band avoiding the pretentiousness of either claiming to be a confounding amalgam of post/rock/core/whatever, or even more pompously claiming to be completely immune to categorization. No, Zakytuss is a rock band… they do have distinguishing features though… and here they are:
If I had to choose a single term to describe this album it would be “epic rock”. Led Zeppelin are the granddaddies here and have clearly influenced the band a great deal, particularly in the Kashmir-esque stomp of “Sanctuary”. There are traces of The Tea Party, but unlike Rinaldi’s acoustically tangential previous works there is plenty of what I’d call “traditional metal”. Elements of Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden and Blue Oyster Cult share space with a few ’90s alt touches: Janes Addiction, Kyuss, a little Alice in Chains…. the album draws nicely on four decades of rock music. The instrumental performances are perfectly adequate, there are no pretentious prog heroics or narcolepsy inducing solos, all lead breaks are concise, structured and well executed. But this album is more about the songs than the performances anyway.
Rinaldi’s voice is interesting… a little like a slightly nasal Jim Morrison crossed with Ian Astbury, but he belts out the verses with conviction and there are plenty of multi-textured vocal harmonies going on to keep things fresh and uplifting. Speaking of uplifting, the album is fairly heavy in emotional content. Not only in the arrangements themselves, but also the lyrics. The concept of the work is one of personal reflection; never forgetting your origins, your old friends and times spent together, both good and bad. It’s an inherently human message and one we can all relate to…. don’t forget the days…
Standout tracks are the epic, stomping vibe of the excellent opener “Lay Down Your Love”, the chugging automotive propulsion of “Death Trap” and the heady riff-fest that is “Find Your Heaven”, though perhaps the strongest track on offer is the previously mentioned “Sanctuary”. As alluded to earlier, it’s got more than a touch of Zep’s “Kashmir” about it during the verses, but it quickly casts off those shackles in its magnificent chorus which showcases Rinaldi’s singing and songwriting prowess at its best.
‘Don’t Forget the Days’ is an excellent debut from Zakytuss, especially considering it’s a completely self-financed/self-produced effort which was apparently recorded for a measly $800! Sure there are some slight imperfections here and there but none worth paying any mind to considering the circumstances, and kudos must go to the band for doing this all on their own. They’ve produced an honest, dynamic and at times soaring rock’n’roll record which is deservedly garnering indie radio airtime. Well done lads, bring on the live shows!
Official band Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/zakytuss