I’ve never known quite where Zachary Campos fits into the musical scheme of things. And that, to my mind, is perhaps the highest compliment you can get. Why make it easy for listeners? Why pander to their comfort zones, their preconceptions, and their expectations? And if previous singles under the nom de plume of Mr Johnny Ba$h like Trial and Exposure Therapy have explored dark routes through a blasted urban country meets bruised gothic undercurrents. And whilst you can’t quite put your finger on what’s going on, you can say that you are not intrigued—more than intrigued…hooked.

Musically, it is a strange blend of urban vocal style, not quite rapped, not entirely sung nor really spoken word, and rock and roll guitars, and, as always, it is a short sonic blast, getting its work done in the time it would take a lot of songs to get into their stride. Short, sharp and shockingly effective.

And if musically it is interesting, lyrically it is beguiling. Taken from the album to follow, The Prophet, Pain is just one part of a bigger story that references Khalil Gibran’s book of the same name, which plays with biblical narratives, albeit recast in modern-day San Francisco and is also partially autobiographical.

An innocent led astray? A man battling human emotions against a higher purpose. A tale of love and loss, devotion and destiny, purity and purpose. The eternal battle between faith and temptation. The album artwork even references, for those in the know, Me Against The World by 2Pac, again a hidden message that points towards a take of loneliness and trying to find the correct path through life.

Everything that Zachary Campos has released seems to confound and contradict what you think you know about him. From dark country to a gothic Vegas Elvis to a rock opera of, literally, apocalyptic proportions, this is an artist as chameleon-like as he is calculating, as musically curious as he is sonically concise. He certainly knows where the music is taking him, even if you don’t.

Predictable? He doesn’t even know the meaning of the word.

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