Band/Artist Profile Classic Album Review

Artist Spotlight: Zulu

I love heavy music. And as someone who is far from a genre purist, I love heavy music that experiments with the “hardcore” label. Music that challenges what hardcore can be is extremely special to me.

I’ve talked about bands that subvert the archetype of “hardcore” before. In November of 2023, I covered Agabas, a band that blends the chaos of metal with jazz.

This week, I’m covering a band that not only fuses genres, but is doing groundbreaking work to elevate the Black community in the hardcore scene.

The Future of Hardcore

Zulu is a black-fronted hardcore punk band from Los Angeles. Formed by multi-instrumentalist Anaiah Lei, the band takes a leaf out of the powerviolence playbook, presenting a raw and aggressive distillation of hardcore punk.

What makes Zulu different from other hardcore acts, however, are the samples of funk, soul, reggae and spoken word woven into their music.

Cover for “Our Day Will Come” by Zulu

For example, the track “For Sista Humphrey” features a heavy guitar-drum duo and guttural vocals before abruptly transitioning into a soft soul melody. In “52 Fatal Strikes,” rage gives way to serenity as a brief classical instrumental jumps in.

While the contrast sounds jarring, it works.

By injecting black-pioneered genres into their music, Zulu imbues their sound with a distinct and unwavering identity. This is especially important when one considers that Zulu’s lyricism is all about elevating Blackness and empowering Black individuals.

You see tension, aggression

Only anger

I see peace


Black joy is divinity

“Our Day is Now” – Zulu

However, as Lei said in an interview with Kerrang! in 2022, the band’s connection to Black culture shouldn’t stand as their only defining feature.

“…when it comes to bringing in a band where all of us are Black, that is an important thing but also people make it a lot bigger than it is,” Lei said. “I guess only because it’s not the norm, and that is what’s the issue. It should be very normal.”

Zulu’s central aim, according to Lei, is to experiment freely within the scene and create a space for others to do the same.

“The one thing I wanted to do with this project was be myself entirely,” Lei said.


Zulu released their first EP, “Our Day Will Come,” in 2019. The following year, they released “My People…Hold On.”

Both EPs feature a melange of rigorous hardcore interspersed with samples from speeches, spoken word, rap, soul music and other historically Black genres.

Zulu’s first full-length album, “A New Tomorrow,” came out in 2023. The album features several singles the band released in 2022 and early 2023.

Cover for “My People…Hold On” by Zulu

The album’s opening track, “Africa,” features a bright classical arrangement before the proceeding track, “For Sista Humphrey,” fades in with a hellish guitar and vocals. A similar pattern continues throughout the album, with hardcore tracks contrasted with peaceful, slow-moving melodies.

Thematically, this poses an interesting narrative. As the band’s lyricism suggests, this contrast illustrates the dual narratives surrounding Blackness: the imposition of an aggressive, violent nature versus the reality of peace, community and creativity.

I’m looking forward to seeing the direction of Zulu’s future projects and seeing them live, since I missed their last live show.

Recommended Tracks

Classic Album Review

A “Convicted” Classic by Cryptic Slaughter

Wave after wave of inundating drum beats and hyper focused riffs shoot through my ears. I can’t stop whipping my head up and down. I wanna thrash and hit bodies in a pit just to feel the pressure of the music like Cryptic Slaughter is screaming about. Music that makes my ears want to melt; music that careens off the edge of highways into the abyss of night; music that creates fissures running through skin and bone – this is the type of sound people look for when we aren’t given enough answers. 

Cryptic Slaughter is one of the earlier thrash and crossover bands to make sounds like this. Starting out in the mid 1980’s, the band jumped onto the scene with a demo, “Life in Grave”, which cemented their early success. The band’s punk sounds combine perfectly with their hardcore attitudes. 

Their first full length release, “Convicted”, was pressed and released by Metal Blade Records in 1986. Cryptic Slaughter thrived on the road and in the studio for a few years before dying as all young bands do with differences of opinions. They resurfaced a few times since dissipating but soon after disappeared back into the grave (Interview from Voices from the Dark Side). 

Cryptic Slaughter, at the time of “Convicted”’s release, had Bill Crooks (Vocals), Les Evans (Guitars), Rob Nicholson (Bass, Vocals (backing)) and Scott Peterson (Drums) as members of the band. The youngest member of the band at the release of the album was about sixteen years old and the oldest weren’t more than a few years older than that. Cryptic Slaughter was just a bunch of kids making waves in the metal scene. 


I wish this album would take me back to the time when it came out. I want to experience how the sounds of heavy drums quaked and rattled the foundations of the venues. I want to feel the rage and pain of everyone in attendance. “Convicted” has a bunch of tracks that make me want to let my fists and legs and body work into the crowd.

Specifically, “M.A.D.”, “Lowlife”, “War to the Knife” and“Reich of Torture” all exhibit the best of berserker inducing noise. They won’t quell the frustrations that so many in attendance like to exhibit at shows. These tracks encourage friendly violence (and that is only a thing in metal/ hardcore). It’s violence you know will be forgiven. Violence and anger at the unjust systems and actions of those holding the reins. 

The most interesting (and ahead of their times) tracks on this album foreshadow the rise of thrash metal.

“Life in the Grave”

This track in particular feels brand new for being released in 1986. If you placed this in the hands of an artist making similar noise today, I would absolutely call this modern metal. 

“Little World”

Quick to anger riffs and sadistic drum beats ring in my ears even after the music is paused. 

“Sudden Death”

Graphic suicidal lyric warning. The opening is dynamite. Gnarly explosive drums issue out earthquakes and aftershocks still coursing through my bones. This track feels so much like early grindcore with punk vocals and lyrics. 

Walking Free from the Prison

“Convicted” stands the test of time. Epic chaos ensues once you hit play. Cryptic Slaughter’s echoes and sharp head pains are a welcoming embrace throughout this piece of music history. I will be checking out Cryptic Slaughter’s later work over the next few weeks to see how their sounds changed throughout their short life. I’m glad I don’t need to ask where the bands making music like this now are at because we just gotta search for them. It’s not too difficult to do a little digging. Also websites like Chosic can help find similar sounding tunes with just a quick search.

Miscellaneous New Album Review

What’s New in Afterhours?: Feb 2024

It’s been a while since the last one of these, hasn’t it? Tragically, the start of 2024’s been pretty dry for new electronic releases, but here at WKNC, we push through to find only the best. Here’s a few that have been added to rotation in the past month!

Spencer Hodo – “deafness”

Genre: IDM

Tracks Added: “follaiseach,” “altwithdrawdeemedW.A.M.I.O.A,” “utqiagvik rockstar”

Yeah, this album is IDM, but Spencer Hodo plays around with what that means. Most notably is the amount of ambient techno influence on it – tracks like “follaiseach” lean hard into that territory, while still keeping some more straight-up IDM tracks, like “absorball.”

Regardless of what genre it is, “deafness” feels mechanical, with just enough ominousness to make an album that deserves its cover art. It’s a strong album, and good for those who like their electronic music on the more technical side.

Shygirl – “Club Shy”

Genre: House, pop

Tracks Added: “thicc,” “f@k€,” “4eva,” “mute”

Shygirl isn’t reinventing music in this EP, but it’s a solid 15 minutes of club-ready bangers. It’s house-y, fun, and most importantly danceable, and while a little more straightforward than some of her previous music, it’s a worthy addition to Shygirl’s discography.

“Thicc” is my personal favorite track, and exemplifies a lot of what I think is best about this release. It’s perfect to put on at just about any party, unless you go to really weird parties where you stand in complete silence or something.

cluli – “CLUECORE!”

Genre: Hyperflip

Tracks Added: “tf we gon do in our thinking chair,” “i was never book smart im clue smart,” “they besties”

Yes, we added a song that samples both Jay Eazy and the line “sticking out your gyatt for the rizzler.” But also, consider: it is, in fact, good.

Cluli brings their own take on the popular-if-you-are-a-very-specific-type-of-person microgenre of hyperflip here, leaning more into the “brostep-indebted extreme production bangers” side of things rather than the “meme sample-heavy” side, though it still brings plenty of the silliness. The result is a potential new classic, and a new artist to look forward to new releases from.


New music is always awesome, and these are no exception. Watch out for them playing on WKNC!

Music Education

Dub: The Genre That Built Goth

I’ve touched on the history of goth music on this platform before.

Considering the sheer volume of goth and goth-adjacent bands I cover on here, I think it’s safe to say that I’m fairly goth-focused. However, I’m far from an expert. When it comes to anything I’m passionate about, I consider myself perpetually learning and perpetually growing.

I’ve been long-familiar with the influence of punk music on the development of the goth subculture. Post-punk exists a staple of goth music (and my top genre of 2023).

Photo by blocks on Unsplash

What I wasn’t aware of, however, was the influence of black culture on early goth music. Once goth began to branch out from its deathrock roots, artists drew from numerous inspirations.

Among them, and arguably among the most important to the scene, was a genre I wasn’t even aware of until I started my research. This genre was not only important, but quite literally spearheaded the production of one of the most iconic goth songs of all time.

What is Dub?

Dub emerged from the reggae scene in the late ’60s and early ’70s. In its earliest iterations, dub tracks were simply instrumental versions of reggae songs.

According to an article by MasterClass, artists would strip a track — usually of the reggae, ska and rocksteady genres — of its leading vocals and highlight bass and drums, occasionally mixing in their own sound effects.

The “first” dub track was created in 1968 when the engineer for Treasure Isle studio accidentally pressed a copy of “On the Beach” by the Paragons without the accompanying vocal track. The mistake was a hit among Jamaican DJs, who improvisationally rapped (a practice called toasting) over the instrumentals.

Cover for “On the Beach” by The Paragons

Jamaican audio engineer Osbourne “King Tubby” Ruddock, roused by the track’s unexpected success, took to his mixing desk to experiment. Ruddock’s influence was instrumental in the growth of dub’s popularity and its spread overseas.

None of this would have been possible if not for the advent of multitrack recording, which allowed artists to strip down tracks in the first place. Other technological advancements in the recording industry would later prove instrumental in the development of the genre.

Cover of “Escape to the Asylum of Dub” by Mad Professor

In the 1980s, a dub scene emerged in the United Kingdom with artists such as Mad Professor, Scientist, Jah Shaka, Adrian Sherwood, UB40 and Mikey Dread, who inspired acts like the Clash and the Police.

This influence can be seen among tracks like “Police & Thieves” and “So Lonely.”

During this time, electronic elements also made their way into the scene, leading to subgenres like dubstep and dub techno. Contemporary dub is considered an electronic genre as a result, often played in clubs and dance halls.

What’s that got to do with goth music?

The list of genres influenced by dub is multitudinous, featuring rock, post-punk, pop, hip-hop, house, techno, edm and many others.

If you’ve made it this far, you might be thinking: oh, dub influenced the goth scene through its relationship to post-punk. And while you wouldn’t be wrong, there’s an even more overt example of dub’s impact on the goth scene.

Bela Lugosi’s Dead,” the debut single of Bauhaus, is widely considered to be the first gothic rock record. Released on Aug. 6, 1979, the 9-minute track served as a tongue-in-cheek tribute to the late Bela Lugosi, star of the 1931 film “Dracula.”

Cover for “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” by Bauhaus

According to bassist David J in a 2018 interview with, dub and reggae were major influences in the song’s production.

“I mean, basically Bela was our interpretation of dub,” J said.

The sprawling instrumental beats and deep, preternatural bass of the song’s first half certainly echo dub’s style.

“It’s all very intuited,” frontman Peter Murphy said in a 2019 interview with Kerrang! magazine. “Very dub.”

Additional Reading

For some more info on reggae, check out “Chef’s Quick Bite of Reggae.”

For some additional reading on dub, check out “The Roots of Dub” by Kirt Degiorgio.

Concert Preview New Album Review

DBB 20: Saphron’s Album “Ecce Homo”

Welcome all ye listeners to the weird and strange and the normal and the everything else under the umbrella of all music. There’s this little thing WKNC does every year to raise money. Maybe you’ve heard of it, maybe not. WKNC’s Double Barrel Benefit is in its twentieth year of existence and there are many amazing bands and artists coming out to King’s on February 16th and 17th to help us raise money to keep doing what we’re doing (all things music).

This year’s Friday headliner, Saphron, is the main objective of this article. While I don’t have much info about the members of the band, I’ve been sinking further and further into the depths of their sounds. 

Saphron is an emo punk band from the wondrous city of Raleigh, NC (we love a good ol’ local band). The members include Zoe Hardee (Composition, Production, Vocals, Guitar, Synthesizer), Ian Waddill (Production, Arrangement, Bass Guitar, Backing Vocals) and Ari Moore (Sound Engineering, Arrangement, Drums, Backing Vocals). All of these credits are for their most recently released album, “Ecce Homo”, which was given unto us on October 14, 2022.

Saphron’s sounds swirl in my head. The moving lyrics and lead vocals of Zoe Hardee jolt me and console me all at once. Little whispers telling me to feel something explode into screaming fits. This band’s unique noises continue to pop in my ears at the most random times of day. Saphron tends to the fields of addicting noise that I can’t quit. 

Ecce Homo

I, as per usual in my album reviews, will stick to highlighting my favorite tracks on this release. Please excuse my abundant adoration of Saphron’s sounds. They’re quite bewitching to me, and I still can’t figure out why.

Pity Stunts

Bass beats and drum thumps echo through the empty rooms in my head. This track fills silence better than any conversation. It’s a cry for love and why we have to give everything we can to smother that feeling. I keep trying to figure out what music scenes I belong to. This song reminds me no one cares, just dance.


This song is my favorite on the album. I keep going into the addictiveness of this music. I can’t stop alluding to it. How does a band do this to my head? What else am I supposed to say to get you all to listen to this? There’s probably some weird formulation of words that make everyone’s head scream at them to listen to a writer, but I don’t have those words at my disposal. Just listen to the song. 

Perfect Love

Both this song and the previous perfectly blend all the band’s talents to create a smoky atmosphere of beauty and pain. There are more explosions off in the distance as the world burns. How am I supposed to care when there’s only my floating consciousness trying to exist when this song plays?


With a synth opening that’s about as addictive as any sweet candy, this song is the reason I can’t stop returning to Saphron’s music. Hardee’s intoxicating vocals are like a stab to the gut. You don’t really want to be hurt, but the pain is freeing in some odd f***** up way. 

Conclusions of a Sort:

I can’t sum up a band. There’s never any real expectation to, but I feel like it helps people who skim articles or even myself come to a final conclusion about sounds produced in the world. Saphron’s music doesn’t need a summary because it’s here in the world to stay and exist in the moments we want to listen. “Ecce Homo” is a great first full length release for this band (obviously an understatement from my point of view) and as this band continues to age, experience life through music and create more heavenly sounds, I will be here listening to anything they can give us. 

Saphron will be headlining WKNC’s Double Barrel Benefit on Friday, February 16th. Be there to support this band but also the other wondrous local musicians offering their talents to our ears.

Concert Review

Mitski- The Land is Inhospitable and So Are We Tour

By: Ellie Feaga

The fall of 2023 was a time of tremendous regrowth in Mitski’s life and career. For over a decade, Mitski has had a significant “cult following” for her emotionally raw ballads with a signature, genreless sound. Her defining 2018 album, “Be the Cowboy, gained more mainstream success in the alternative scene, with hit singles “Washing Machine Heart” and “Nobody.” But this past fall, her new lead single “My Love Mine All Mine” brought an entirely new audience to her music. Thus, seats to see her spring 2024 tour filled up extremely quickly with fans both new and old.

Mitski is joined by Belgian-Egyptian artist Tamino, whose unique style proved to be an excellent complement to hers. Tamino performed completely solo, accompanying each of his own songs with a guitar or mandolin. The quality of his voice can only be described as ethereal, and upon comparison, identical recorded and live. Among all of the opening acts I have seen blindly (without previously knowing the artist), this was likely the most powerful one I have ever experienced. Undoubtedly, I would like to see him perform as a headliner in the future.

Weekly Charts

Top Charts 2/20/24

Top Charts

1GOTTS STREET PARKOn The InsideBlue Flowers/PIAS
2YUNGATITAShoelace & A KnotSelf-Released
3BUTCHER BROWNSolar MusicConcord Jazz/Concord
4SPRINTSLetter To SelfCity Slang
5TEENS IN TROUBLE“Playlist” [Single]Asian Man
6AESOP ROCKIntegrated Tech SolutionsRhymesayers
7ARLO PARKSMy Soft Machine (Deluxe)Transgressive/PIAS
8BLACK MILKEverybody Good?Mass Appeal
9CHERRY GLAZERRI Don’t Want You AnymoreSecretly Canadian/Secretly Group
11OFFICE DOGSpielNew West/Flying Nun
12PARIS TEXASMid AirParis Texas/The Orchard
13RATBOYSThe WindowTopshelf
14SEAFOOD SAMAfros In The Wind [EP]drink sum wtr
15SLEATER-KINNEYLittle RopeLoma Vista/Concord
16YEULEsoftscarsNinja Tune
17ALEX G“Runner” [Single]Domino
18ATMOSPHERESo Many Other Realities Exist SimultaneouslyRhymesayers
19CASTLE CHAMPParenting lolSelf-Released
20CITIZENCalling The DogsRun For Cover
21DARKSOFTGrayscaleSpirit Goth
23DEATH’S DYNAMIC SHROUDAfter Angel100% Electronica
24EDO. GWe Do GoodRed Line
25FROST CHILDRENHearth RoomTrue Panther
26GABRIEL TEODROSFrom The Ashes Of Our HomesSelf-Released
27GLASS BEACHPlastic DeathRun For Cover
29H31RHeadSpaceBig Dada
30THANKS FOR COMINGWhat Is My Capacity To Love? [EP]Danger Collective

Top Adds

1OMNISouvenirSub Pop
3VAMPIRE WEEKEND“Capricorn” [Single]Columbia/Sony
4VAMPIRE WEEKEND“Gen-X Cops” [Single]Columbia/Sony
5LIME GARDENOne More ThingSo Young
6SERVICESTemporary Time & PlaceSelf-Released
7WARPAINT“Common Blue” [Single]Rough Trade
8HANA VU“Care” [Single]Ghostly International
9LIQUID MIKEPaul Bunyan’s SlingshotSelf-Released
10BOLIS PUPUL“Ma Tau Wai Road” [Single]DEEWEE/Because
Weekly Charts

Underground Charts 2/20/24

Underground Charts

1TOUSSAINT MORRISONThe Very Best Of Ricky & JaneUrban Home Companion
2CZARFACECzartificial IntelligenceSilver Age/Virgin
3H31RHeadSpaceBig Dada
4STALLONE AND WEATHERSThe Cost Of Doing BusinessSelf-Released
5DANNY BROWNQuarantaWarp
6ATMOSPHERETalk Talk [EP]Rhymesayers
7MIRANDA JOANOverstimulatedSelf-Released
8ARLO PARKSMy Soft Machine (Deluxe)Transgressive/PIAS
9PARADIMEPeriodmello group

Underground Adds

2RITCHIE“RiTchie Valens” [Single]AWAL
3CHIMA ANYA“Everything” [Single]Self-Released
4THE ART MUZEUMSlice of LifeSelf-Released
5SWOOPTICK“Keep Going” [Single]Self-Released
6DJ MOVESPam Grier Step KidsBlack Buffalo
7STIA“Soho House” [Single]Chateau
8EAST SIDE LOVE“Who Knew” [Single]Self-Released
9DEVINE CARAMA“Skillmatic” [Single]Self-Released
10H DOT LECTUR“Rewind Heat” [Single]UndaWorld Bosses Ent.
Weekly Charts

Jazz Charts 2/20/24

Jazz Charts

2MARY HALVORSONCloudwardNonesuch
3BRIAN SCARBOROUGHWe Need The WindOutside In
4ALABASTER DEPLUMECome With Fierce GraceInternational Anthem
5SPECIAL FEELINGSSpecial FeelingsRhythm Section International
6DARIUS JONESFluxkit VancouverNorthern Spy
7CHUCK COPENACEOshki ManitouJayward Artist Group/The Orchard
8FIEVEL IS GLAUQUE“I’m Scanning Things I Can’t See” b/w “Dark Dancing” [Single]Fat Possum
10BUTCHER BROWNSolar MusicConcord Jazz/Concord
Weekly Charts

Chainsaw Charts 2/20/24

Chainsaw Charts

2CRYPTOPSYAs Gomorrah BurnsNuclear Blast
3DOMINATION CAMPAIGN“The Iron Beast” [Single]Prosthetic
4CHAT PILE, NERVERBrothers In Christ [EP]Self-Released
6FREYAFight As OneUpstate
7BARONESSStoneAbraxan Hymns
8ENTIERROThe Gates Of HellSelf-Released
9ESHTADUR“Fire Above Mountain Below” [Single]Self-Released
10MORTA SKULDCreation UndonePeaceville

Chainsaw Adds

1BRATSocial GraceNapalm
2ILLUMISHADEAnother Side Of YouNapalm
3AMIENSUS“Vermillion Fog Of War” [Single]M-Theory