Zulu Death Mask

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San Diego's Deadbolt have a dependable trick -- if not a completely original one -- and their fourth album, Zulu Death Mask, is the best of their own specific genre. The self-described "world's scariest band" plays "voodoobilly," speaking stories of horror, violence, and depravity over minimal, echoing surf music. (In fact, their self-invented "voodoobilly" moniker is a bit misleading; Deadbolt have much more in common with Dick Dale than Eddie Cochran.) Zulu Death Mask is funnier and more entertaining than previous Deadbolt albums, primarily because leader Harley Davidson had evolved into an interesting storyteller. This never-boring album features narratives about ghosts and demons who devour hippies ("Watango"), provoke sexual identity crises ("She's Gone Gongwipdu"), and soil the reputation of pastry mascots ("Burn, Lil' Debby, Burn"). Deadbolt fans will also appreciate the return of psychotic clown Patches from their earlier album Shrunken Head, and the bonus track "Crime Scene," about a wearied and experienced crime photographer, is an unusually poignant moment -- at least until the part where Davidson talks about the woman whose arm gets crushed by 37 Liberace albums.

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