Progressive, heavy, exotic… the four-piece Exotic Animal Petting Zoo hailing from Crown Point, Indiana have been on my radar for quite sometime. They give that needed dose of adrenaline-fuelled fire to pump up the mood. The name itself best describes their sound; it’s a mixture of rare and exotic textures that entice the ear, whilst maintaining curiosity throughout their tracks. Don’t let the humor of the name fool you though, as this music isn’t for the faint hearted.
While they disappeared for a time, the band have recently begun to get out on the live scene again, and as someone who’s followed them for a while, it’s great to welcome them back. Their most recent release Tree of Tongues features a smorgasbord of flavours, and showcases some serious musical talent. The more obscure tracks such as “M.U.M.B” bridge the album tastefully.
The standout track of the album has to be ‘Through the Thicket... Across Endless Mountains’ which starts with a steady pace and smooth clean vocals that quickly escalates into pure energy. With howling, screamed vocals, complex drums and an entourage of distorted, buzz-saw guitars, the track inspires a true sense of awe. The track contrasts this with a beautifully crafted middle section, like the eye of the storm, calming and lulling you into a false sense of security.
The closer of the album, ‘Arcology’, tells the story of exhaustion, coupled with a steady guitar rhythm and sparse drums to create an absolute belter of a tune. The lyrics tell a well-detailed tale, beautifully brought to life by the rest of the band.
Heading back to their first release (I Have Made My Bed In Darkness), we are introduced to their early experiments, with lush instrumentals such as “A Balloon Enters Kyoto City” and their more progressive tracks, and for me “Moonshoes” stands out as one of the gems.