B.C. Rich has never rested on its laurels. For one thing, if this US luthier made laurels they'd probably be too spiky to touch, let alone rest on.
And for another, with the metal scene getting heavier by the year, someone has to provide the artillery to keep up. Ever since the launch of the Seagull back in 1972, Bernie Rico's firm has edged even closer to building the ultimate rock guitar, picking up accolades from the biggest names in scare-metal along the way.
So it's with great pleasure, and no shortage of complaints from the bloke upstairs, that TG unveils the latest additions to this dysfunctional family. Sticking with the 'undead' theme, TG would describe the new Zombie as a bit of a Frankenstein's monster.
This design digs up the psychotic body of the Beast, stitches on the headstock of the Widow, and reduces the overall bulk to make it more manageable for pint-sized hell raisers. Indeed, B.C. Rich reckon the Zombie's reduced girth makes it one of the most playable guitars they have ever built. Yeah? We'll see about that.
As you might expect, sitting down with the Zombie prompts a stabbing pain in your chest and thigh.
Even by B.C. Rich standards it's hopeless for seated practice, but a good sense of control over the fingerboard goes some way to compensate. You've got two choices: stand up or start sandpapering. While the Zombie is the most expensive of the three, you won't find much difference in the spec.
Rather than rotting flesh, it's actually made of agathis (a commercial grade mahogany), with a maple neck bolted tightly to the body by B.C. Rich's factory in Korea. A pair of BDSM (Broad Dynamic Sonically Matched) humbuckers provide the grunt, and 24 jumbo frets ensure that you're not limited to chugging.
Despite a generous scale of 25.5-inches, the Zombie plays fast and loose, welcoming bends and giving your fingers the space to really start motoring across the two octaves.
In reality, the price difference is largely down to the Zombie's body wood and the licensed Floyd Rose tremolo; a fairly logical feature given the high-octane technique for which the guitar is intended, but a potential cause of pitch wobbles if you palm-mute all your riffs à la Mick Thomson.
A floating tremolo is a fantastic option, and well worth the extra waddage, but only if you'll actually use it.
It's a common misconception that B.C. Rich guitars can only be used for metal. We actually felt the Zombie had a convincing voice when it came to more 'classic' rock, and even sounded quite cultured when we smothered its naturally woody tone in oodles of reverb. But who are we trying to kid?
The overdrive button was duly hit, the pick was dug in hard, and the humbuckers responded with a beefy sneer. There's a useful level of sustain to be had here – the reduced body mass hasn't spoiled that – and our harmonics practically pinched themselves.
It all cements the impression that the Zombie is a lead guitarist's guitar, and a bloody good one at that.