25 Oct 2021
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Shihad - Album Review: Old Gods

07 Oct 2021 // A review by Kev Rowland

There is no doubt that Shihad are the Kiwi rock band who should have broken America 20 years ago, and if it wasn’t for a series of unfortunate events such as the attack on the Twin Towers, which caused the band to change their name (Shihad being too close to Jihad, but while Pacifier may have seemed a good idea on paper, it wasn’t and they eventually switched back), or accidently upsetting virtually every record label at a showcase gig, then they would have been. The first time I saw Shihad was at Western Springs opening for AC/DC, and there is no doubt that the guys were blown away by the reaction, as it seemed that although everyone was there for the main event, they were all diehard Shihad fans as well, singing along to every song. The next time I saw them was when they opened for Black Sabbath, and again the crowd were hanging on every note.

To place the band in some sort of context, this line-up has been together for 30 years, they have had five #1 albums (equal with Hayley Westenra as the most for an NZ act) and hold the record for most local entries on the singles chart with 25. The guys are icons, have had a massive impact on the local scene, and they are back. Boy are they back.

Their last album. 2014's FVEY, was deemed by frontman Jon Toogood as their best release in 15 years, and it was certainly their heaviest. Seven years later they find NZ in a very different place to where it was back then, going through a pandemic, suffering the Christchurch Massacre, Black Lives Matter, seeing society making steps in the right direction and massive leaps in the wrong ones, and they’re angry. Really angry. There are some who say that politics and music shouldn’t mix, that it is entertainment, while others say it is an incredibly viable way of getting messages across and there is no doubt which camp Toogood is in.

Tom Larkin and Karl Kippenberger are setting the platform as ever, and often it is down to these guys to provide the nuances, such as rim shots, tribal drumming or delicate cymbals from one, or throwing in additional melodies from the other. The reason for that is Phil Knight and Jon Toogood are completely locked, so much so that it often sounds as if it is just one guitar. They are also often playing a very similar downtuned riff throughout a number, which becomes hypnotic, being both brutal and melodic at the same time, sounding almost compressed in the way they keep the sound so tight. This allows Jon to really let rip. Since the last album he has converted to Islam, has married a Sudanese Muslim (Dana Salih), and he is angry at injustices such as colonialism, religion, and sexual predation, and he needs to cry it to the skies.

Once Auckland is out of lockdown, I am so looking forward to catching these guys play, as this album may be melodic in its recorded form, but when it hits the road, this is going to be an alternative metallic monster. This 10-track release is under 40 minutes in length: it comes in, bashes the listener about the head, demanding they pay attention, then disappears again. Until the listener does the only sensible thing, and presses play again.

Rating: ( 5 / 5 )
 

About Shihad

Picture this… 1988, Bob Hawke is Prime Minister, Australia dumps $600 million bucks of tax payer cash on Expo 88, Home and Away hits our tellies for the first time, Triple J launch the Hottest 100, Nintendo release the Game Boy, free University education is no longer an option, and over in Wellington NZ, the Southernmost capital city in the world, Jon Toogood and Tom Larkin are busily creating a heavy rock band…. A monstrous band that would end up becoming one of New Zealand’s most loved, respected and successful exports… Kia ora Shihad!

Fast forward to 2020… Jon, Tom, lead guitarist Phil Knight (who they found through a music shop notice board ad in 1989) and bass player Karl Kippenberger, who joined the band in 1993, (from being a fan) have released nine studio albums (five of which went to #1 in NZ). They survived a name change propelled by Jihad becoming a staple negative reference in the global vernacular thanks to 9/11 (Shihad became Pacifier, and returned to Shihad), personal triumphs and tragedies, travelled all over the world with endless tours, selling out headline shows and sharing stages at major local and international festivals, and touring with musical heroes like Motorhead, Metallica, Faith No More and AC/DC to name a few! In 2010 they were inducted into the New Zealand Music’s Hall Of Fame. And just like Neil Finn, Russell Crowe and every other successful person or idea to come out of NZ… Australia quickly adopted them as our own, showering them with ARIA nominations, adoration and ownership of their global success.


Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Shihad

Releases

FVEY
Year: 2014
Type: Album
Ignite
Year: 2010
Type: Album
Buy Online @ Mightyape
Beautiful Machine
Year: 2008
Type: Album
Buy Online @ Mightyape
Love Is The New Hate
Year: 2005
Type: Album
Buy Online @ Mightyape
Alive
Year: 2005
Type: EP
The General Electric
Year: 1999
Type: Album
Blue Light Disco
Year: 1998
Type: EP
B-Sides
Year: 1996
Type: Album
Shihad
Year: 1996
Type: Album
Killjoy
Year: 1995
Type: Album
Churn
Year: 1993
Type: Album
Devolve
Year: 1991
Type: EP

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