100% HEAVY / 100% Free / 0% Spam

MAMMAL: The Penny Drop

Share This:

New World Artists

March 6

Mammal has been right up there as one of my all-time favourite bands from the moment I stumbled across them in one of the side tents at the Gold Coast Big Day Out in 2009.

I remember walking past the three-quarter full tent and hearing a rumbling mixture of rock, funk and metal performed by a tight as fuck band with a bloke out the front wearing one of those hats that would normally be seen atop Fred Flinstone’s head when he went to his weekly lodge meetings.

Not that the vocalist even slightly resembled the man who yells ‘Yabba-Dabba-Dooo’, but from afar his choice of head attire certainly piqued my interest.

I was devastated later that year when news of the band’s separation filtered through, and throughout the ensuing years of silence on the Mammal front I continued to fly the flag for what I considered (and still do) to be one of the best Australian bands to emerge from our great musical backyard for the last quarter of a century at least.

So when Mammal got back together in 2018 and released the single Community it was fair to say that I allowed myself to get more than a little excited, with the gradual drip-feeding of new music over the next four years barely enough to satiate my growing hunger for new music.

And I’m sure I’m not the only one.

When whispers began circulating late last year that a new album was nearing completion I admit to messaging frontman Ezekiel Ox with a subliminally underlying plea to be kept privy to any and all updates, which he obligingly did.

And, long story short, here I am with the first official review of the album, soon to be followed by an in-depth interview about the release, with the starting point for each track being my thoughts and opinion. Let’s not fuck around, shall we?

Opening track Moscow starts with a tasty whirling of guitar atop mumbled rants that intensify with each breath. I’m sure if you listen hard enough you would be able to make out what is being whispered because this is Mammal, and they ALWAYS have something to say.

Rather than blast out of the gates on the first song, Mammal instead elects to ease into things with a beautiful harmony of “around the world” repeating as the music starts to grow impatient before BANG, Zane Rosanoski kicks in on drums with a menacing kick pattern, enticing frontman Ezekiel Ox to shout “do you know where you are?” and just before I snap back “you’re in the jungle baby” the landscape shifts – and probably not for the first time – into a rapid-fire rap type monologue of venomous intent.

The groove shifts into gear just after the first chorus and this is the first sign that Mammal are here are ready to rock on The Penny Drop. The band is at their best when dripping with funk and already there’s enough of it to start a metal disco.

Breakdowns ensue alongside timing and tempo changes but, for this song at least, Mammal has kept the contrasting styles to a minimum, allowing Moscow room to breathe of its own accord and thrive because of it.

The title track snaps into life next courtesy of a massive drum pattern before Zeke orders “let’s go” and who am I to resist?

This track throws down the funk-fuelled hard rock from the outset, giving off a strut and swagger that almost matches that of the frontman himself.


Zeke’s authoritative vocals are there in all of their unbridled glory, but so far on this album he seems more intent on laying a sonic platform rather than calling out the oppressors – but it’s only two songs in…

Then the song takes a sharp turn into funky town, with a swanky breakdown like something out of the Shaft movies. It’s only short-lived, however, before Pete Williamson carries The Penny Drop to a close with a clever guitar run that proves funk isn’t the only meal on tonight’s agenda.

Recent single Keanu Reeves is up next, with Williamson picking up where he finished the last song. Then Mammal get their strut on with a tasty groove-orientated passage led by new bass player Kade Turner.

This track is a blast of sonic rage and subversion, mixing rock, funk and metal the way only Mammal can to deliver a hybrid brand of music that is as fresh today as it was the first time this band laid down tracks some 15 years ago.

A cool breakdown just shy of the two-minute mark allows Zane and Williamson to join forces for a quickening moment that provides both the backbone and heartbeat of the song. Absolute cracker!

Slings And Arrows eases out of the blocks next courtesy of Zeke’s voice and nothing else before the band kicks in and ushers in another rap-inspired number that still maintains a harder edge courtesy of crunching guitars and purposeful drumming.

This song is the first track where Zeke actually sings for large periods and for those of you who don’t know the man can fucken sing. He just doesn’t overdo it.

A nice guitar solo complete with distortion adds spice to the song before Zeke redirects it back to a restrained rap number complete with vocal harmonies. But it’s Williamson on guitar who dominates Slings And Arrows, and rightfully so.

Hit Me starts with a steady drum pattern before an almighty roll sends things into overdrive and Zeke resumes hostilities. But it’s not all rage and spite, with a clean chorus adding nice contrast to the song.

Not many vocalists can sustain such sharp vocal disparities within the one song but I guess no one has ever mentioned that to Zeke. Or maybe they have and he is now doing it to prove a point? Fuck knows, but it’s awesome to listen to.

Another hazy guitar solo elevates the song midway through, acting as a buffer to the controlled chaos going on around it before Zeke closes out the song with more cleans leading into screams that ram the point home with precision.

Doubt is next and is a slower, more deliberate track that gives off a feeling of sorrow and/or remorse. Gone are the big guitar sounds and pounding drums, replaced instead by a more mature-sounding song that cruises along at a steady pace. I guess you could call it a ballad of sorts, but it’s not making me throw up in my mouth so if it is it isn’t your standard ballad album filler.

It’s actually quite a beautiful number, highlighting Mammal’s ability to write more thought-provoking tunes and not just societal observations and statements.

Agree To Disagree sees us pass the halfway mark of the album, and something tells me from the title alone that this song is going to be personal to Zeke.

A swirl of bass, drums and guitar introduces the song before Zeke explodes into life, delivering a scathing vocal attack that can only be borne out of frustration.

Touches of funk work their way back into Agree To Disagree, but overall it’s just a song of rage and hostility, punctuated by wicked guitars and menacing vocals.

An elongated guitar solo hits the spot warmly but acts merely as a buffer before Zeke taps back into his anger and resumes hostilities. I’m not sure who he is upset at, but I would certainly hate to be whoever that person(s) may be. But you have to give it to Mr. Ox. The man doesn’t mince words when he has something to get off his chest.

The album’s only collaboration featuring Fresh Violet is next and after listening to this album multiple times I can tell you this is my favourite track.

With a vocal introduction spelling out bass in multiple formats, Zeke politely asks “Hows the bottom end?” before launching into a tirade of sorts that always comes back to the variants of the word bass (base).

Fresh Violet enters the fray with a pleasant and engaging voice that has an underlying menace. It offers extreme light to Zeke’s shade and the two vocal components gel nicely together.

Violet says something about a slap in the face and one can only assume she is referring to the double S version of bass, which would fit in with the references to the bottom end.

It’s a frenetic and groovy number that has Zeke snarling and wailing with intent, refusing to be calmed by the female vocals. Finishing with a tasty as fuck bass run, I’m still not entirely sure what the song was about but I do know I like it!

Live Bold And Dangerous stutters to life before a tough as fuck drum intro coaxes Zeke’s inner rapper out of slumber. He has the rare ability to switch from rap techniques to screaming to rocking to harmonious cleans at will and it’s hard to imagine many vocalists keeping up with him. But don’t tell him I said that.

A wicked guitar-led breakdown around the minute-and-a-half mark sets the track ablaze before a funkier breakdown led by bass flips the song onto yet another axle. Which doesn’t deter Zeke as he powers back into action and you can almost picture him gyrating and playing up to the crowd while playing this live.

Finishing with the simple question/statement of “how good is music?” we are carried into what Zeke has already told me is the albums ballad in Maybe. Now, we all know my aversion to ballads on any album, but given Mammal aren’t prone to including many I get the feeling this one must be pretty special so approach it with the respect it deserves.

A gentle guitar intro awash with measured high hat taps affirms my belief and by the time Zeke eases up to the microphone and starts singing within himself and with clear emotion I find myself quickly forgetting this is a ballad of sorts and instead enjoy it for what it is.

A fine piece of music.

You can almost feel the emotion as Zeke begins his sonic tale as the rest of the band maintains a steady output between tempered and mournful backups that add a touch of mystique to what is already an engrossing song.

While essentially the very epitome of a ballad, Maybe possesses much more musically.

An underlying sense of groove and sporadic flashes of bass accentuate the emotional aspect of the track and the fact Zeke resists many opportunities to cut loose into more aggressive territory speaks volumes in itself.

I still have no idea just what has stirred emotions within the enigmatic frontman, but I’m also sure I will find out in due course.

Make It Count marks the second last song on The Penny Drop and starts as such with a damaging drum and guitar opening passage over the top of ‘hoo ha’s’ from Zeke that only magnify as the track continues.

It is already an intense song that maintains the rage throughout as Zeke taps back into his inner conflict and reignites the war against humanity’s oppressors. “Sell yourself, make it count”, he barks, emphasing the point that as a species humans are giving more and more of themselves over too easily without questioning why.

A calming breakdown near the two-minute mark is almost ethereal in nature before a frenetic and commanding bass-led change in tempo brings back the groove and funk and we are once more in subconscious dance mode.

And that is one aspect of Mammal’s music that is understated to an extent. These guys make music that forces you to dance. Even people like myself who are violently opposed to busting out the moves find it impossible to resist the charm of Mammal’s music, and on more than one occasion I have felt my body moving in unwanted directions at a live Mammal show.

And here we are at the end with the song Five Days. I can’t remember the last time I was this bummed out that an album was about to finish, but I can rest easier in the knowledge I can just start all over again.

A countdown to five sparks the song into being with Mammal seemingly intent on winding things up with the same enthusiasm as they started.

Drums play a large part in the early stages of Five Days but as the track progresses it becomes clear that every instrument will get its time to shine. But, of course, Ezekiel Ox remains the pivotal point from which the Mammal sound is produced, and the frontman glides and grunts his way through yet another musical journey wrapped neatly into one digestible package.

A wicked guitar solo soars majestically into the ether as Zeke sits back to admire the beauty of his band and band mates but not before he surges back to the plate and fires one final salvo of “I’ll see you never.”

While every Mammal fan and those with even a passing interest in the band have long known of the talent residing within these four individuals, the band’s output of one album in the last 15 years has always been a source of concern.

Have they got another great album in them? Will they overcome the problems of the past long enough to finish another album? Or even the simple question of will they be able to better The Majority?

The answer to those questions and more is an emphatic yes.

A fuck yes even.

Mammal are back ladies and metalheads and they are intent to welcome you into their musical family by whatever means possible. Resistance is futile.

Discover more like this on HEAVY:

Our Picks.

Get the HEAVY

Get the HEAVY Digi-Mag in-boxed weekly. 100% HEAVY / 0%SPAM.