Dayton’s Zuel to rage upon Blind Bob’s
By Josher Lumpkin
Photo: Zuel perofm at Blind Bob’s on April 25; photo: Tom Wilson
Since 2009, Zuel has been bringing their brand of thick, intricate metal to headbangers hungry for something different. Though broadly describable simply as metal, this umbrella term does not do the group justice, as it will not take the trained listener long to notice. Made up of singer Brandon Hawk, guitarists Tim Warren and Brent Raether, bass player Nick Crone and drummer Matthew (Stu) Tickel, Zuel shifts from subgenre to subgenre without missing a beat. Punctuated by periodic breaks and stops, their constant jumping of time signatures and changing of tempos blaze forth in a frenzy of chugging, destructive bliss. The guitars and bass glide up and down the scale, while pounding drums alternately gallop and stampede, weaving together a complex, blaring tapestry of sonic A.D.D.
There is definitely something for everyone within the hysteria, and one doesn’t have to listen for very long for that to become apparent. Among the styles you will hear at their show at Blind Bob’s on April 25 are progressive metal, stoner rock, sludge, death metal, grindcore and math rock. And that’s just in the first minute of the first song!
“Our collective musical tastes vary drastically,” founding member Matthew (Stu) Tickel said. “There are moments that remind me of Candiria, Coalesce and even Soilent Green and Atheist at times. There is also a myriad of non-metal influences that have been adapted to be heavy or to juxtapose something that is.”
Just as their music progresses and changes within each song, the band has seen their own share of changes.
“Had a few lineup changes, a name change and a few practice location changes,” Tickel said. The current Zuel lineup has also seen a recent development. After performing as an instrumental quartet since their original singer, Ryan Cox, moved out of state in 2012, the band has added Brandon Hawk (By Way of Sunstorm, Marijuana Johnson) to their ranks as singer and lyricist.
“There was always meant to be vocals to our songs,” Tickel said.
“When our original vocalist moved, we were determined to keep going,” guitarist Brent Raether added. “We decided to keep booking shows and playing out while we looked for a new singer, but we were not going to settle for just anyone. Almost two years and I don’t even know how many shows later, we finally found the right guy. We were just lucky our music was busy enough where we could get away with playing out without the singer, but Brandon is awesome and is busting through songs like a champ.”
I asked Hawk where he expected to find inspiration for lyrics: “When I joined the band, I inquired about what general direction they may have in mind, and they asked me to not be too serious and to write naturally. One song is about taking gambles and being taken advantage of. Another is about taking care of what’s important like friends and family.”
The state of the metal scene in Dayton in recent years has become increasingly healthy. There are more metal shows than there used to be, more venues for bands to play in, and, in general, audiences are more receptive to aggressive music as a whole than in years past.
“How many years went by where there was a drought for metal in the downtown area?” Tickel asked rhetorically. “It’s not that it didn’t exist, there just wasn’t any venues. I also think this is not limited to metal. Nightlife in general seems to be prospering in Dayton, and that is good for all genres. There is good, original stuff to be heard outside of metal coming out of Dayton, and I for one hope that it’s a sign of economic optimism for the area. We certainly need it.”
With their lineup finally chiseled into stone, and having now had five years of practices and shows under their belt, what’s next for Zuel?
“Up until now, we have only really put out some demos, and used to hand them out at shows,” Tickel said. “We are currently working on a full-length release and hope to have it out this summer and we’ll see where it goes from there. Until then, we have a few songs up on ReverbNation.com available for download.”
What can show-goers expect on April 25?
“A very solid lineup and also three very different flavors of metal,” Tickel said. “Gnashing of Teeth and Sea Beast are both examples of the finest quality metal you’re gonna find in the area and also are really good people, too.”
Raether chimed in, “A lot of respect towards each other, and being surrounded by lots of friends makes for a good show.”
Zuel will perform Friday, April 25 at Blind Bob’s, 430 E. Fifth Street. Also on the bill are Gnashing of Teeth and Sea Beast. Admission is $5 for 21 and up. Doors at 9 p.m. For more information, please visit reverbnation.com/zueltheband.
Reach DCP freelance writer Josher Lumpkin at JosherLumpkin@DaytonCityPaper.com.