Zorastead is a band that formed just before the pandemic. Many of their songs capture the struggles that people have faced during the pandemic, including but not limited to them releasing their first album. It is commendable to be able to produce such a well-created album despite not being able to share physical proximity. Inner Rails is Zorastead’s first album after having released True Words as a single – it is also the last song on the album. Inner Rails contains 8 songs and runs for a little over half an hour. Each track’s title gives the listener an idea of where they’re going with it. But what stands out the most is that the album doesn’t abide by any one particular genre. Zorastead uses an eclectic approach to make pop-rock. The entire album is steeped in emotions both from the vocals as well as the instruments.
The album opens with Bothering Ties and immediately the scene is set very dramatically. The vocals cut through a heavy instrumental track, almost as if they’re tied together. As the song picks up the pace, it starts including futuristic, ethereal sounds that add sparkle. I’m reminded of early Heart and the powerful vocals backed by strong rock elements. We move into Thorns For Breakfast, which starts off with a bright and tinny acoustic guitar met by the bright vocals of lead singer Jennifer. This track is a stark contrast from the theatricality of Bothering Ties and the gentleness of the track kind of reassures you that you’re in a safe space.
This gentleness is then broken as I Can Tell You begins. A strong emotional experience that is perfect to headbang to. I Can Tell You reminds me of blink-182 and Fall Out Boy with enchanting drums and powerful, emotionally-driven vocals. The wide guitars ring out into the next track, Bliss In A Pill that sounds like you’re in a state of ecstasy. However, the song is loaded with emotions of heartbreak and loathing, but this doesn’t stop the song from being a powerful ballad. Similarly, Violence Skills follows the deep grungy nature we’d expect from a song with the title. It’s groovy and sounds like something you’d hear on a Megadeth or Mötorhead album and is definitely a song I would personally recommend. The next track on the setlist is Methodic Poisoning, which the band themselves have described as a song about burnout in health workers. This song is easily the gloomiest on the album, with the lonely acoustic guitar met with hollow-sounding pans. Jennifer’s strong vocals add so much depth and emotion to the track that makes this sound like one of Alice In Chains’ acoustic stuff – I say that as a huge fan of Alice In Chains.
Zorastead finally breaks the cycle with the more uplifting final tracks. Call Me By Name sounds like a typical synth-pop song but with Zorastead it’s not just about the instrumentals. The vocals and lyrics are just as uplifting as the synthesizers. We finally get to the final track True Words which banks on the love theme hard. An introspective as well as an emotionally charged track that lifts your mood and then dissipates into silence right at the end.
We were fortunate enough to score an interview with Zorastead! Read on below.
How did you come up with the name zorastead?
We were thinking of a name that night in the studio (it was the last night we were together, before the lockdown due to the pandemic), but nothing came out. Then suddenly our singer yelled the name of a medicine she had taken for allergy, and we immediately liked the sound of that name. So we started a real brainstorming, adding and removing letters and changing the sound of the name. Well, in the end we created the name “Zorastead”.
You’ve mentioned that songs like “Methodic Poisoning” are about burnout syndrome in health workers. Is there something specific about this that influenced the process behind the song?
We believe that sometimes we submit, without being aware of it, to events that dehumanize us. Work can be one of them, especially when we make choices unaware of the damage we are doing to ourselves. “Methodic Poisoning” has a similar theme to “Thorns for Breakfast”: both seem to say “Stop poisoning yourself with that lifestyle, get your humanity back, become aware of yourself and your emotions, you are a human being, not a mechanical doll”.
What are the central themes you look to explore creatively?
Definitely human emotions, especially those that are considered uncomfortable to talk about. Both the lyrics and the music go in that direction: you experience a wide range of emotions within the same song, and between one song and another on the album, and it might seem strange, so you are stimulated to stop and think about it, about what the song really wants to uncover.
What would you say is your motivation behind the music you create?
Artists have the privilege of speaking directly to the soul, in my opinion. Sometimes, our souls are covered in dust and rust, and need a shake off. Songs are like an angel on your shoulder, who gently whispers in your ear those things you are too busy or distracted to think about.
What is next for zorastead?
Maybe a video or two of our favorite songs on the album, who knows!