(By Pat ‘Riot’ Whitaker, Lead Journalist/Writer, RiffRelevant.com)
Let me begin by saying that the fact that British Columbia-based speed metallers Zimmer’s Hole are now over 25 years old is simply mind-boggling to me. The band was really begun as a side project of several members from Strapping Young Lad, and to be honest, is a little in a similar vein of music. But hell, there is nothing wrong with that if you are asking me.
Two parts of SYL, guitarist Jed Simon and bassist Byron Stroud, along with ZH’s original drummer Steven Wheeler and vocalist Chris Valagao, put the band together in 1991. The story goes that the band was named after the sphincter of the band’s late mutual friend Dean Zimmer, who would chase people around with his butt cheeks spread open during parties hence, Zimmer’s Hole.
Due to Simon and Stroud’s regular activities in Strapping Young Lad at the time, it would be years before Zimmer’s Hole would release on official studio outing. It eventually did happen though, coming in the form of 1997’s Bound By Fire, which was both produced by Devin Townsend and released on his label, Hevy Devy Records.
To say that Zimmer’s Hole was perhaps only a half-hearted attempt at being a serious band making serious music is probably quite accurate. Maniacally schizophrenic music and vocals, comedic lyrics and subject matter, all with a devil-may-care attitude and total lack for any conventionalism. Yes, that pretty much sums it up rather well I believe.
After wrapping a tour with SYL, Stroud and Simon got the old ZH gang together again and recorded their second record, Legion Of Flames (produced by Stroud & Simon this time) in 2001. Released once again through Hevy Devy Records, this effort was a bit more musically focused but the lyrical matter and comedic content was, once again, over the top. This outing delivered song parodies such as “Gender Of The Beast” (“Number Of The Beast”, Iron Maiden), “Sodomanaz” (“Go For A Soda”, Kim Mitchell), and a spoof of Metallica’s “Master Of Puppets” in the song “Evil Robots“, with the line “Napster, Napster, where’s the cash that I’ve been after?“. The album also contained a cover of Joni Mitchell’s “This Flight Tonight“, with humorously altered lyrics.
In 2007, Strapping Young Lad was officially disbanded, a seeming green light for Simon and Stroud to directly focus on Zimmer’s Hole as a full-time band. Century Media signed them and the band entered Vancouver’s Armory Studios to begin working on their third studio album. It was around this point that drummer Steve Wheeler exited the band, his replacement being none other than The Atomic Clock himself, Jed and Byron’s SYL band mate, Gene Hoglan.
What Zimmer’s Hole created for their third album is the record where I personally discovered the band, the amazing, and awesomely titled, When You Were Shouting At The Devil…We Were In League With Satan. Issued through their new home label at Century Media in 2008, the actual story behind the record’s title is one of the best in somewhat concealed music history, if true. It was told by singer Chris Valagao in a 2008 interview that goes like this:
I believe David Vincent of Morbid Angel was having a conversation with one of the guys from Forbidden. They were drinking and fucking around, and they got into this argument over who’s more metal. The dude from Forbidden, at one point, turned to Dave and said, “Dude, when you were shouting at the devil [a reference to Mötley Crüe], I was in league with Satan [a reference to Venom],” and Jed was in the room and picked up on that. So we started saying it as a joke. That little statement applies to a whole bunch of shit. Basically, “When you were a poseur, I was the real deal”.
Unfortunately, activity from Zimmer’s Hole waned after the release of their third album, which I personally believe is their best. It did spawn an awesome Official Video for the title track (below) but I assume the guy’s busy activities in outside projects created a drop off in their focus on Zimmer’s Hole….until NOW!
News broke just this week that there is a flurry of activity happening within the ZH camp. First, the band has inked a deal with Scrape Records who will be reissuing the entire Zimmer’s Hole catalog (Bound By Fire, Legion Of Flames, and When You Were Shouting At The Devil… We Were In League With Satan) on special edition CDs. Plus, for the very first time, also on 180 gram vinyl in 2018. All are hand-numbered including a small amount of CDs and vinyl autographed by the band and more. These will NOT be available in stores.
Also, word is that Zimmer’s Hole will record and release their fourth studio outing, for Scrape Records, in 2018.
Pre-orders / bundles available now at scraperecords.com/zimmers-hole/.
Scrape Records have also set up an Indiegogo pre-order campaign featuring rare and one-of-a-kind Zimmers Hole / Strapping Young Lad / Devin Townsend related items at this location.