Zero Boys – Vicious Circle

Zero Boys
Vicious Circle

Anyone who reads my reviews knows I’m not a big fan of punk-rock. It takes a really unique band to win me over in that style. So when I popped in Vicious Circle, I was floored. This stuff was great. This is what punk is supposed to be all about. I wasn’t surprised, but a bit disappointed, to find out that this is the re-release of a seminal 1982 punk album.

Why haven’t I heard of Zero Boys before? I suppose because I haven’t been a punk fan. But this album, even after being released in 1982, has a timeless sound. Knowing when it was released, I can definitely see how bands like The Ramones, The Queers, Screeching Weasel and others could have been influenced by Zero Boys.

First of all, this band rocks. The guitar is killer, ripping of riffs one second and keeping up with the strong and always varied percussion the next. The bass is lightning quick, and the singer belts out the vocals in a way that’s vicious but always understandable. There’s definitely attitude here, but not the false or forced attitude most punk bands seem to acquire. In fact, this is what punk should be about: songs that are fast and powerful yet not overwhelming, lyrics that hit the point but are understandable and catchy, and just killer rock-n-roll.

“Vicious Circle” starts off with a blistering, hardcore-punk attack and a weird, echoey effect over the whole thing, even the scream that ends it, before the anthemic “Amphetamine Addiction” breaks in with a more poppy-punk style. Oh, man, it’s all about the killer guitar riffs and “1-2-3-4-go!” on “New Generation,” which definitely has hints of the New York City punk/hardcore scene without getting too overbearing. “Livin’ on caffeine, livin’ on booze,” singer Paul Z. belts out in an echo effect on “Dirty Alleys/Dirty Minds,” which really is an all-out, straight-forward rock song. “Civilizations Dying” is all about the recent (for the time) shootings of President Reagan, John Lennon and Pope John Paul III. “Livin’ in the 80’s” is downright catchy and bouncy, while you can imagine the kids thrusting their fists into the air and chanting along to the decidedly punk “Drug Free Youth.” “You Can Touch Me” has an almost metal-dark mood to it, but it just rocks along so fast and fun. “Hightime” has a sped-up Cheap Trick feel to it, which is damn cool, and “”Charlies’ Place” is another favorite, especially because of the ripping guitar and spit-out vocals that have this Drivin’ n’ Cryin’ feel to them. “Trying Harder” has the whole British feel of punk-rock, which was always my preference. Then there’s two unreleased tracks, which are true to the album tracks and, if anything, even more catchy and guitar-focused, especially the terrific “She Said Goodbye.”

I suppose I need to expand my punk-rock knowledge, if I haven’t heard of Zero Boys before. Any band whose album could be just as good today as when it was released in 1982 has had to have had a major impact on the development of punk and hardcore. This album rocks, fast and fun and powerful. Just the way punk is supposed to sound. Punk rockers take note.