Track by Track: Inner Mission by Zen from Mars

Zen from Mars have transmitted their debut album to album to the Universe and it’s a cracker of an album. As I’ve said in previous posts about Zen from Mars, if Stephen Shareaux is singing, then I am listening.

Zen from Mars is the collaborative music project with Stephen Shareaux and guitarist Drew Fortier (The LucidBang Tango).

The band previously released singles, “New Leaf” (2016), “Mother Evolution” (2019), which also makes a revamped appearance on Inner Mission along with the self titled single that was released in March 2022.

Released by KRM Records, Inner Mission is 12 tracks of pure gold…or should I say pure star dust.

Let’s dive into Inner Mission track by track:

Intro – an instrumental or a transmission, if you will, kicks off the album and sets the mood for the next 42 minutes.

Inner Missionas I have said before, this song is a goddamn banger. From the moment it starts to the very end, it’s 4 minutes and 27 seconds of greatness. As a drum and bass girl, the song had me hooked. They resonate with a heaviness that reminds me of how Christoph Schneider and Oliver Riedel from Rammstein pair together. It hits me in the chest and just sits in the heart like a great drum bass sound should do. But my favourite part of the song is the chorus where Stephen’s vocal talents shine. He’s got a depth and range that has always given me chills. The distortion of his voice on the words falls and all is signature Stephen and it’s a sound I missed from his 2020 solo album Silver Lining.

Poppy – this song kicks off on an acoustic guitar and what I imagine laser beams would sound like in space if there was sound in space. If there was an epitome of how a poppy rock song works, then Poppy showcases that. Upbeat and infectious melodies, catchy choruses, crunchy guitars, and a driving beat. Everything mixes together like a well oiled machine.

Downtown – man do I get 80’s and specifically Duran Duran / John Taylor on bass vibes from this song. I am here for every bit of 80’s energy it is throwing my way. My favourite part of the song is the bass. It is slick and sexy. The spoken word by Stephen throws me back in time to “Crash City” by Kik Tracee. The song ends epically with a crashing crescendo of piano, bass, and guitar that will leave you gasping for air.

Alien to Me – the bass and drums in this song give me life but it also does the piano in this song a disservice as it drowns it out through most of the song which is a shame as I find it a quite lovely progression. This song showcases Stephen’s vocals and show his depth and range with the music complimenting his voice.

Like a Vampire – there’s a few interesting things I find in this song: the “forward”, “backward” sound that vinyl would make at the beginning that leads into the “start”, “stop” of the guitar, the quiet solid bass line, and how Stephen’s voice feels like he is belting out a rock opera or rock musical. There’s a cocky swagger to his resonance. Unlike “Alien to Me”, his voice plays nicely against the guitar and bass. Overall, this song is epic, big and bold and stands out against the other tracks.

Hand in Fist – had me at the bass, stayed for the guitar. This song is the epitome of sweaty dirty rock. Hip swaying bass. Head banging guitars.

Turnstile – aside from the instrumentals, this is one of the “quieter” songs on the album and I use the quieter very loosely as the song still manages to kick one in the face. Instead of swinging in like a wrecking ball, it kicks one like a ninja. What I love the most about the song is the way the acoustic guitar pairs with bass and the way they cradle Stephen’s voice. The combo of bass and Stephen’s voice in this song is A++.

Cry – I guess if I had to call a song a ballad on this album, then “Cry” would be a ballad. Drew’s epic guitar solo is absolute fire.

Mother Evolution – listening to the 2019 version and the 2022 version of the song back to back, shows the subtle differences between the two tracks. It seems the main difference is that everything seems to be turned down in the 2022 version while the 2019 version was at 11. The overall size and depth of the song is still loud, epic, and bold. Everything is extra in this song and extra in a good way. It’s the extra that makes this song heavy, bold, and beautiful.

Celestial – the penultimate track gives me a heavier “Space Oddity” vibe. Celestial’s bass line is absolutely infectious and the chorus is bright and epic. I really dig the overall vibe of the song.

Celestial Reprise – the second and final transmission of the album is a reprise of the music and chorus from “Celestial”. I find it a very touching way to say “goodbye” to the entity or entities who presented themselves on this musical journey.

FAVOURITE TRACK: tie between “Like a Vampire” and “Downtown”

MUST LISTEN TRACK: “Mother Evolution”