One Day As A Lion - One Day As A Lion (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

One Day As A Lion

One Day As A Lion (2008)


Zach de la Rocha, a former hardcore kid who looks like a bit like a Hispanic Bob Marley and used to rap over some heavy metal guitars in a famous band. Jon Theodore, a drummer known for his work with experimental music and a long stint as the drummer for The Mars Volta. Put them both together and give de la Rocha a keyboard, and what do you get?

Well, a fairly bland but promising debut EP.

Zach de la Rocha has one of the most distinctive voices, a distinctive forceful delivery for his rapping and a strong scream. But he hasn't ever been known for his musicianship outside of being a voice. And while Jon Theodore does a solid job of maintaining inventive beats working in the realm of hip-hop and whatever genres One Day As A Lion bridges into, the album suffers mostly from a lack of diversity. But as the group suffers from a lack of aural diversity, it's also what keeps the band sounding distinct.

The keyboard lines are simple and serve as bass and melody pieces, leaving the main construction of the songs as de la Rocha's voice over Theodore's drums. It's an experiment in rhythm and minimalism that pays off moderately.

Fans of Rage Agaisnt the Machine will take note of the self-titled track "One Day As A Lion," with its high pitched, staccato melody notes placed over deep rhymic bass notes while fans of The Mars Volta will appreciate the overtly complicated and syncopated drum riff of "Last Letter." And in fact, it's that beat that's the most exciting part of the album.

Most representative of the group, however, is the opening track and single "Wild International." Featuring a simplistic keyboard riff over a fairly standard hip-hop beat, it gives de la Rocha an effective medium for his political rhymin', of which he's never been sharper.

The bottom line is that this is a solid introduction to the band, offered in a small dose perfect for digestion. But when the future comes into discussion, in my opinion, One Day As A Lion should be one of those bands begging to work with a talented, hands-on hip-hop producer like RZA.