Harder, Louder, Faster!
‘Kneel to Zod’ Craft New Originals on Third CD
By Andrea Shiell - Staff Writer "The County Times"
If you don’t know General Zod, the
diabolical supervillain who made his
DC Comics debut as the leader of Krypton’s
military in Adventure Comics #283
(April 1961), it may not keep you from
enjoying the musical stylings of Kneel
to Zod, a Slayer-esque group of original
metal songwriters and performers from
Callaway, but it’s still kind of fun to look
into the character and see why the name
Just as comic book stars of all
stripes added to Zod’s reputation over
the years (including Robert Bernstein, George Papp, Brian Azzarello, Geoff Donns
and Richard Donner) there have been several lineup changes with Kneel to Zod – as
they’ve been around, in some form or another, for the last decade – but there’s not a
single member of the band that doesn’t pull their weight. In fact, their division of duties
is very democratic, with singer C.P. Cameron splitting arrangement decisions and
lead vocal duties with guitarists Bryan Johnson and Billy Stinnett, drummer Matt
Callaway and bassist Bob Johnston, all of whom share songwriting credits as well.
The group has boasted their current lineup for the last three years, playing shows
close to home as well as in the D.C. and Baltimore circuits, and their hard work has
most recently culminated in their third album, The Greed States, which took them a
year to finish.
C.P. credited most of the delay to the group’s obsessive attention to detail, but
there were also bitter moments of the kind of bickering that could turn one version
of a song into six or seven, one take into 10, and one month of writing and recording
into nearly 12.
“We’re all perfectionists … so really I think it was just that we all had so many
ideas to throw in, so it got really stressful. We even almost got to the point of fighting,”
Creative disputes haven’t ended the band, however, and the end result has been
a smart collection of songs that sounds like it was a labor of layering as much as love,
all adding up to an album that deserves to be listened to continuously from start to
It’s hard to classify Greed States as a concept album, even if it does have some
similar elements in terms of style. You can pick out the politics (largely anti-war,
though violet emotions are celebrated, as is heavy metal custom), but these guys
aren’t lyricists as much as they are musicians. That much is clear when you listen to
the way they craft songs, building one instrument at a time before adding the words,
which are just what you’d expect from a metal band – dark, emotional, somewhat
political and oozing with angst – and this goes well with the throaty death metal-inspired
vocals on much of their CD.
There does come trouble when trying to classify Kneel to Zod – at least in terms
of their style of playing, because you can pick out similarities to groups like Korn,
Staind and Disturbed, with a lot of technical flair to boot. But the cadence of the vocal
and guitar work can sound just as much like Tool or Testament, depending on which
track you pick, whether it’s the chest-beating battle ode Teddy Bear, or Prelusion of
Avarice, the album’s slightly creepy and melodic instrumental.
So is it fair to equate these guys to a Phantom Zone fugitive with x-ray vision and
plans for world domination? Probably not.
After all, it’s not like they tried to take over Krypton with an army of
cloned robot soldiers, and they don’t have super strength or the ability to fly,
and none of them look anything like Terrance Stamp (who played General
Zod in 1980’s Superman II, popularizing the “kneel before Zod!” command and at
least a million related jokes).
What they have done is share the stage with some heavy (metal) hitters including
Overkill, WASP, Kings X, Anthrax, Funny Money, Doro Pesch and Hotwire.
And they DO know how to scream (on key, no less), and if you ask this reviewer,
that quality is Zod-like enough. One of his superpowers is, after all, tremendous lung
For more information, go to www.kneeltozod.com