Zulu's A New Tomorrow: "The first absolutely essential album of 2023"

LA-based hardcore newcomers Zulu challenge the boundaries of heavy music with their utterly captivating debut

Zulu band
(Image: © Alice Baxley)

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It's been amazing to see the growth, boundaries and perspectives in hardcore hugely widen over the last few years. We’ve had Turnstile, Soul Glo and Code Orange – and, with this debut album, LA quintet Zulu can be added to the list of bands that are warping the genre into new and groundbreaking directions. 

And, on this occasion, the deviations take hardcore way outside the boundaries of its pre-established map. A New Tomorrow more than lives up to its title. This is the classic sound of punk rock, hardcore and powerviolence reimagined and rebred with both the liquid grooves and righteous protest polemic of the golden era of funk and soul. 

So, while you’re spin-kicking through the crushing riffs and furious anger of a song like Our Day Is Now or From Tha Gods To Earth, don’t get too comfortable; the smooth sounds of Shine Eternally are always around the corner to surprise you. It’s a wild ride, as Zulu can be destructively heavy one moment and gloriously euphoric and inventive the next. 

The intention of the record is clear, with vocalist Anaiah Lei’s exploration and explanation of experiences as a Black man in the US both a poignant and powerful emotional totem to drive the album. 

By the time we get to the wonderfully expressive hip hop of We’re More Than This it’s almost worthless comparing Zulu to other current hardcore peers. Instead, their lineage belongs alongside the revolutionary likes of Sly And The Family Stone, Rage Against The Machine and Public Enemy. 

Big words indeed, but A New Tomorrow is unquestionably cut from the same cloth as those bands at their best; the mutinous spirit of those artists, both in their refusal to be sonically pigeonholed and in their pure defiance against the system that tried to marginalise them, is the thing that makes Zulu so special and singular. In A New Tomorrow, it’s led to the first absolutely essential album of 2023.

Zulu's debut album A New Tomorrow is out today via Flatspot

Stephen Hill

Since blagging his way onto the Hammer team a decade ago, Stephen has written countless features and reviews for the magazine, usually specialising in punk, hardcore and 90s metal, and still holds out the faint hope of one day getting his beloved U2 into the pages of the mag. He also regularly spouts his opinions on the Metal Hammer Podcast.