Zero Hour – Dark Deceiver (2008, Sensory)
- Power To Believe
- Dark Deceiver
- Inner Spirit
- The Temple Within
- The Passion Of Words
- Severed Angel
Chris Salinas – Vocals
Jasun Tipton – Guitars
Troy Tipton – Bass
Mike Guy – Drums
Producer: Dino Alden
Total Time = 44:43
When the latest CD from Zero Hour crossed my desk, I really had no idea what to expect. First, I had never heard of Zero Hour. Second, Progressive Metal isn’t my usual headbang. One look at the cover art and I new that the album would be interesting. A couple of things to remember about Progressive Metal: be prepared for a lot of music in each song and each song’s duration may vary.
The opening track, ‘Power To Believe’, kicks everything into high gear with a seven minute plus barrage of over-the-top (OTT) technical guitar, wild bass, and pounding drums. Add in some time changes and it’s easy to get confused as to where the song is going but somehow it all manages to come together in a dark, brooding mood emphasized by Chris Salinas’ vocals. To me, I hear some Tate, Halford, Allen, and Englund all mixed in…..Salinas is at his best with his dark lower register. The title track continues the assault with some very heavy riffing from Jasun Tipton and some really cool high end screeches from Salinas. Midway through the song, the pace shifts to a solo more melodic tone, and then picks up again into the whirlwind of sound, until it ends with the same slow moody passage.
Track #3 is a 12 minute opus called ‘Inner Spirit’. Usually, when I see a song’s time over 8 minutes, I wonder just how much is instrumental and necessary. The first 2 minutes of ‘Inner Spirit’ firmly establishes that the foundation is pure instrumentation but then Salinas comes in with this dark, low voice that sounds like a devil rising from the fire, with a cleaner, higher vocal over the top. Solo after solo, pounding drums, bass thumping, riffs a plenty…..there’s a lot to absorb in 12 minutes and the song is jammed full. ‘Resurrection’ slices close to 8 minutes off the previous song and gives Zero Hour one of it’s shortest songs on the record but still maintaining the superb musicianship. Bassist Troy Tipton gets his 1:20 of pure bass soloing on ‘Tendonitis’, an appropriate title but an unnecessary inclusion for the record. We’ve already heard the guys play…..and play…..and play, it’s easy to figure out these guys can play circles around many musicians.
Best song for me is ‘The Temple Within’ with it’s Queensryche vibe during the more subdued melodic moments and it’s technical ability. Same goes for ‘Lies’, there’s a Queensryche/Geoff Tate style in the vocal delivery that appeals to me. There’s also a little less music to absorb with the basic riffing and bass lines, more like Power Metal at times, until the end when the band starts to cut loose again. ‘The Passion Of Words’ starts the barrage again with a really cool vocal and a very heavy feel until midway through where the band quickly stops…..only to start up again pummelling the listener with complex passages. The last song, ‘Severed Angel’, is a pure instrumental that provides a quick 2 minute plus burst of technical angst that ends so abruptly you aren’t sure that it’s the end of the album. I must have sat waiting for a good minute before I got up and checked the stereo to be sure it was over.
Like I mentioned before, Progressive Metal isn’t really my thing but I have dabbled in the genre so I know what to expect. DARK DECEIVER is high on musicianship and mood, the best songs being the slower ones with the darker, more brooding sound. Listening to each song, you can’t help but notice the band’s technical abilities but sometimes I got a bit lost in the whirlwind of sound. Some of the songs are a bit long and you wonder when it’s going to come to an end and some of the others are short (normal length for most of us) but jam-packed full of instrumentaion. What tied everything in together was the vocals, Chris Salinas doing a great job of blending different ranges and styles and proving he is also a solid performer alongside his bandmates. Only seven proper songs here with two instrumentals, normally that would be a problem for me but both were a total of less than 4 minutes combined so they didn’t take away from the rest of the album like some instrumentals do in the Prog Metal scene. All in all, DARK DECEIVER kept my interest and makes me want to check out some of Zero Hour’s earlier work – there are five other albums to investigate.
Favorite Songs: ‘Inner Spirit’, ‘The Temple Within’, ‘Lies’, ‘Dark Deceiver’