Zygote - A Wind of Knives [Reissue] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


A Wind of Knives [Reissue] (2020)

Pine Hill

After Amebix shambled to a collapse in the late ‘80s, founding Amebix member Stig Miller and later day Amebix members George Fletcher and Spider linked up with Tim Crow of Smartpils as Zygote. Zygote only release one demo and one LP, and then, without much fanfare disbanded in the early ‘90s. The group has been mostly forgotten except for a limited German reissue and a more recent, but very quiet, Portuguese reissue. The recent Pine Hill re-issue makes the argument that the band, which always lived in the shadow of its progenitor, was unfair overlooked- and frankly, that’s true.

1991’s A Wind Of Knives continues the dark grind of Amebix. As before, punk and metal are merged into a single clomping beast. However, here, whereas Amebix would often revel in the power of slow motion, heavy duty clomping, Zygote is more likely to tear forward, perhaps influenced by the rising thrash scene. Though, while thrash bands would often get flashy and even silly, Zygote maintains the ominous dread of Amebix. Even when they charge forward, a thick, power grime washes through the riffs.

Both Stig and Fletcher take the vocals and again, the influence of Lemmy shines through in these glass-and-tar deliveries. However, this isn’t pure Motorhead-aping. Both singers have a unique bark that waivers between Viking charge and punk-attak. What’s most interesting, however, is that the lyrical content here, is for the most part, decidedly negative.

Amebix would often balance modern leftish politics with ancient spiritual awakening- here, the band is more concerned with coming to terms with what man is, by looking at man himself, rather than looking to a universal source for an answer. “In the Red,” and “Scarred,” a rather brutal tale of rape, take a good hard look at mankind and simply decide that he is wretched. Look also to “diceman,” which suggests that man goes wherever he is fated, regardless of any sort of morality. The end of Amebix and the entire span of Zygote found the members shackled with absolute poverty, drug problems, and serious mental health issues. That comes across here in a very bleak message. Though, what’s frightening, is that you can’t necessarily say that the band’s negative message is wrong.

One thing that Amebix always did was keep a spark of hope alive- check out “Arise” and “Chain eaction.” At first, it feels that this album will be nothing but bleakness. But, there is a single spark of hope in “We are tomorrow.” “The legacy is ours / their pain and sorrow / but we have the power / we are tomorrow,” they wail. Even that track is cloaked in a sort of hopelessness, but that line of defiance does come along at the very end. It grants great insight into the band , and ourselves, that while the black and light were about fifty-fifty just a few years prior with Amebix, by the time of Zygote, the ratio was decidedly slimmer. Yet, despite all of that, the message of reliance remained- and that might be the true power of the album.

The Pine Hell reissue is very well done. The sound has been remastered for vinyl specifically and really kicks out the speakers. The jacket and art is basically a reproduction of the original, except the cardstock and jacket is high quality. They also made the decision to include “The man in the crowd” which is not on all versions of the album (careful listeners may notice the riff from another song...) Finally, this hard-to-find album is available at a fair price, and not only that, it’s the best presentation of the release to date. Anarcho punks, death rockers, Crust-punkers and metalheads who like the rawer side of things will definitely dig this. For Amebix fans, this is a must have.