‘Zero Worship’ is a record fighting to be heard in a sea of noise, both literally and conceptually. Recognising there are vast swathes of new music releases destined to go unlistened, ‘Zero Worship’ is pulled along by the tide, but swimming against it too. It’s political, in other words, at a time when musicians seem afraid to confront issues and ideas head on. Its subjects are many: the failure of the internet to set us free from the powers that be; the rise of post-truth politics; the increasing polarisation of online communities; the image of the anonymous protestor, embodying “a collective hope, in a hopeless time.”
Never before has Young Legionnaire – comprising former Yourcodenameis:milo frontman Paul Mullen, ex-Bloc Party bassist Gordon Moakes and Dean Pearson on drums – realised this fully their musical vision, washing out their taut melodies, math and post-rock influences in a carefully crafted wall of distortion. Armed with storming tracks like anthemic up-tempo lead single ‘Disappear’, a rallying call against “the narrow, backward-thinking powers of corporatism, nationalism and fundamentalism,” the spiralling grunge grind of ‘Sawn-Off Shotgun’, the stop-start mathematic acrobatics of ‘Heart Attack’ or the bass-led atmospheric alt-rock drive of ‘Hail, Hail’ they’re doing their best to land a killing blow. Paul’s trademark scream cuts through the mix like jumper leads meeting flesh, while the rhythm section fills out the tracks with textural flourish or counterpoint riffs as the occasion requires.
The band have now shared the video for ‘Disappear’ with basins’ Gordon Moakes commenting,The ‘Disappear’ video is a mini-documentary of the last two years in the life of Young Legionnaire. Compiled by the band, it mixes footage from our appearance at the ArcTanGent festival in 2015 with scenes from the writing and recording of ‘Zero Worship’ in various locations between 2014 and now. Interspersed are atmospheric visuals from the industrial setting of Turmwerk studio in Woltersdorf, Germany. The building is an old converted pump-station set in the woods of Brandenburg, and we tried to evoke some of the spooky majesty of recording in such austere, wintry surroundings. In relief to the montage of images are snippets of lyrics from the song, which (loosely speaking) are an attempt to refute the crackpot ideologies espoused by Ayn Rand in ‘Atlas Shrugged’.’
That’s not to say ‘Zero Worship’ lacks lighter moments. The slow-burn melodrama of ‘Simone’ and wistful romance of ‘You And Me’ not only offer shelter from the storm raging outside, but also provide some of the album highlights. ‘You And Me’ is intimate, contrasting with the political and social message of the rest of the album, and reminding the listener that dramatic events in tumultuous times affect things on the scale of the personal, too. “It’s supposed to be a human-sounding record, made of human emotions. Of human concerns,” as Gordon puts it.
“Just leave the notes behind. Leave them to drift up to the clouds,” Paul sings in album closer ‘There Will Be An Escape Hatch’, and if there is a lyric that encapsulates the album, then it is this. Here is a record that cares about saying something, passing on a message with blind hope, but no expectations. If that’s provocative, nihilistic even, then this record is a call to arms – even if that call only rings out for a moment, an echo buried inside the constantly updating noise of the modern world.
‘Zero Worship’ is released on 25h November via Superstar Destroyer Records.