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Cloak and dagger, skull and bones!

Five years ago I came across an advert on Kickstarter by Daniel Boyle to record a follow-up album to the critically acclaimed War Ina Babylon by Max Romeo named Horror Zone. The original was recorded in 1976 backed by the Upsetters and is regarded as one of the best albums to come out of Lee Perry’s Black Ark studio. The warning of total destruction and despair sounds as potent today as it did in its heyday. Songs like One Step Forward, Chase The Devil and War Ina Babylon made this album an instant classic. Having enjoyed Boyle’s previous effort to recreate the Black Ark sound on the Back On the Controls album with Lee Scratch Perry, I decided to back the project. I opted for the so-called producer group which gave me access to a limited group of backers who got to listen to snippets of music during the production of the album and give feedback. I remember taking my time to really listen to each snippet and substantiate my preference (lots of horns obviously) together with the other backers in the producer group. I’m not sure on what influence this had on the end result but it was very nice to be part of the process.

If War Ina Babylon was considered a warning to the nation in the 70’s, Horror Zone appears to rise out of the ashes of its predecessor and solidifies the original message in this new day and age. The album can be very menacing with Max warning everyone for their own downfall as the greed of mankind digs a pit big enough to swallow the earth. The musicianship is superb and the vinyl pressing sounds amazing. It has a clear but warm analog sound and a thundering bassline. Horror Zone is produced with an all-star ensemble of musicians and features stunning artwork that matches the content on the album. Famous artist Tony Wright, who created some of the most memorable cover art in music history including the War Ina Babylon album, hand painted the cover art for the Horror Zone.  The dub counterpart is included in the package on the second disc which gives you a whole different perspective on the album. Where some newer less elaborate albums go for ridiculous prices on Discogs nowadays you can snatch up this album for under € 10… Crazy times…

Players of instrument

Glen Da Costa –  Saxophone (Bob Marley and The Wailers/The Upsetters/Zap Pow)
Vin Gordon – Trombone (The Skatalites/The Upsetters)
Robbie Lyn – Keys (The Upsetters/The Now Generation/Word, Sound and Power)
Dorit Chrystler – Theremin (Marilyn Manson, The Strokes, Dinosaur Junior)
Lee “Scratch” Perry – Backing Vocals, Percussion and Mixing
Hornsman Coyote – Trombone (session player and up and coming artist)
Hughie Issachar – Bass / Guitar (veteran session player)
Bregt “Puraman” de Boever – drums (session player, artist and founder of Lost Ark Music)

Horror Zone is not to be taken lightly, both musically and lyrically, but it is an absolute stunning piece of music worthy of far more appraisal than it got upon release.

Update: check out my review on the latest Dub effort of Horror Zone named To Drive The Dub Starship Through The Horror Zone.


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