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Fucked Up: Year Of The Ox

Year Of The Ox is the fourth and final installment of the Zodiac Series, a string of 12-inch EPs meant to show off just how far Fucked Up can stretch, fold, and discombobulate the often-reactionary sound of hardcore. If there were any barriers left for Fucked Up to break, consider them now broken. Like its three predecessors, Ox is a showcase for lengthy, meandering tracks; the eponymous A-side is 13 minutes long, and the B-side, “Solomon’s Song,” clocks in just under 12. Of the two, “Year Of The Ox” is the more accessible—but still, it takes some goodwill on the listener’s part to stick around past the first few minutes. The buildup pays off. After a choppy, flanged-out riff that channels Brian Eno’s “Third Uncle” and the Germs’ “Lexicon Devil,” the song sinks into a pool of symphonic bombast amplified by the backing vocals of Zola Jesus’ Nika Rosa Danilova, whose eerie quaver twines around the apocalyptic bark of Fucked Up frontman Damien Abraham. Less immediately mesmerizing is “Solomon’s Song”—though its ringing, churning, synth-and-sax-slathered atmosphere is anchored by a whale of a bassline. In spite of the differences between Ox’s two halves, they form a stunning cap to Zodiac’s rabid experimentalism, and they prove once again that Fucked Up can apply raw, snarling anarchy toward the pursuit of a deeper, weirder truth.

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