The debut full-length release from this band comprised of residents of the twin university towns of Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, MI, is an energetic, fuzzed-out, frenetic, double-sized issue of punk rock. Imagine if the Misfits and Man or Astro-man? joined forces, like in an old issue of Marvel Team-Up, to create this intercosmic surf punk band. One can even hear the traces of a thunderous pair of bands from the same geographic area that preceded Mazinga by more than three decades, the Stooges and MC5. The music of Mazinga is informed by horror and sci-fi flicks, but comics rule the day, particularly those of the Jack Kirby style. Note the Kirby-esque cover art by Mazinga's bass player, Big Tony (aka Tony O'Farrell). Check some of the song titles named after comic characters, such as Namorita or Satana. One of the tracks reinterprets the title of a run in Frank Miller's hardboiled detective comic, "That Yellow Bastard," now about the "f*ckin' mullet" that took away a girlfriend. The name of the band even comes from a Manga creation by Go Nagai, known in America as Mazinger Z. Like certain Man or Astro-man? releases, select thematically related samples (Battlestar Galatica, The Silver Surfer) are inserted at the beginning of some songs. Recommended tracks are "Omega Race," "That Yellow Bastard," and "Namorita." Marc McFinn handles the majority of the vocal chores, delivering them in a style not unlike Glenn Danzig, but not quite the guttural bellow that the former Misfits singer can reach. Assisting on vocals and also lead guitar is Chris "Box" Taylor, playing a fuzzy-sounding guitar which alternates between sludgy rock ("Legacy," "Mongoloid") and a faster-picked, surfy style ("Gravity Kills"). Augmenting on guitar is Denzil Gray, who left the band soon after. The aforementioned Big Tony lays down a wall of thunder with his bass, syncing perfectly with the powerful drumming of Don Blum. With its influences worn on its sleeves (album or coat), Mazinga is a great album of singalong tunes, pop culture, and even a Devo cover ("Mongoloid").
by Jeremy Salmon