If you ever thought punk rock music couldn’t sound progressive, this record will convince you that everything is possible. Maybe The Zak Splash Story (Soundtrack To The End Of The World) came out in 2012, but it went under the remixing, reworking, and remastering treatment for this deluxe reissue. For those stumbling upon this band for the first time, The Duel is a progressive punk rock duo consisting of vocalist Tara Rez and keyboardist Any Thierum, which started its career in 2001. Throughout the years, they shard the stage with renowned bands such as Dead Kennedys, Angelic Upstarts, Sham 69, Buzzcocks, The Vibrators, The Slits, Vice Squad, Angie Bowie, Peter Hook, etc. The band ceased all activities in 2014 after Andy Thierum was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. However, The Duel decided to reissue The Zak Splash Story (Soundtrack To The End Of The World), intending to raise awareness about it and help people to understand how living with MS can be a difficult task to maintain. It’s also good to mention this release features Max Splodge of Splodgenessabounds as a narrator.
The Duel is one of those bands that defies any simplistic classification into a singular music genre. Perhaps classic punk rock comes to mind, but wait until you hear neverending layers of ear-appealing orchestrations included at The Zak Splash Story (Soundtrack To The End Of The World). Perhaps they solely rely upon punk rock aesthetics, but the band cleverly incorporated some of the best properties of progressive rock, psychedelic rock, space rock, power pop, synth, and electronic music. Therefore, this material sounds so luxurious, detailed, and complex. You’ll immediately notice that The Zak Splash Story (Soundtrack To The End Of The World) goes way beyond many albums released by contemporaries back in 2012. The entire release carries a pleasant ambiance that vividly resembles something renowned progressive, post-punk, and punk rock bands would eventually record during the seventies and eighties. At some points, you’ll stumble upon some classic sonic maneuvers, which are one of the main characteristics of eighties rock. Maybe some readers would think it’s too many music genres stacked in one place, but don’t worry, The Duel assembled the entire material like pros.
Each composition bursts with a slightly different atmosphere, but together they form a flawlessly executed audiobook built upon many remarkable moments. Andy Thierum’s performance shines bright in the limelight with all those complex, psychedelic, progressive, cleverly assembled themes, melodies, harmonies, and ambiances. His performance enhances and decorates each composition, so The Zak Splash Story (Soundtrack To The End Of The World) wouldn’t sound this good without him. Of course, that doesn’t mean the remainder of the instruments don’t sound equally good. Quite the contrary, each participant plays a significant role in shaping this exceptional sonic equation. You’ll notice how the powerful guitar riffs complement Thierum’s keyboard performance, while the warm-sounding basslines bind the abovementioned instruments and profoundly dynamic drumming performance. Also, nothing would sound this good without Tara Rez’s superb vocal abilities that provide another layer of harmonies over the top. It’s one of those mindblowing punk rock releases you need to hear. The Zak Splash Story (Soundtrack To The End Of The World) comes as a double clear with splatter vinyl release housed in a hefty gatefold packaging. Head to The Duel’s official website, and grab a copy of this progressive punk rock gem.