If the metal world getting bashed over the head with the latest powerhouse from Meshuggah wasn't enough, technical prog-metallers Zero Hour are about ready to finish the job and leave us all obliterated into a pile of ash with their new CD Dark Deceiver. This band has consistently delivered top notch stuff, and their last release Specs of Pictures Burnt Beyond in 2006 was considered one of the top albums of the year here at Sea of Tranquility. Well, Dark Deceiver ups the ante considerably my friends, both in terms of complexity and heaviness. Opening track "Power to Believe" might just be the most crushing piece this band has ever recorded, filled with brutal guitar riffs from Jasun Tipton and the always elastic jazz-fusion bass lines from brother Troy. Former Power of Omens singer Chris Salinas is back for his second album with the band, and he sounds right at home here, even getting in some nasty growls on this killer of an opening cut.
From there the band steamrolls into the title track, another dark and intricate burner, drummer Mike Guy all over the map with an array of complex fills and heavy backbeats while the Tipton brothers weave one jaw dropping passage after another. "Inner Spirit" kicks off with some slamming drum work and dizzying unison guitar/bass melodies (hold on tight folks, this is one intense ride!) before Salinas comes into the fray with some effects laden, almost Sci-Fi sounding vocals. Jasun's guitar work on this shred-fest is monstrous, his acrobatic sweep picking flying about the mix on top of brutal machine gun rhythms. It's not all about intense riff-o-rama, as the middle section features some haunting atmosphere and mysterious & passionate vocals from Salinas. From there the band launches into the sick prog-metal feast that is "Resurrection", where they combine sumptuous melodies with weaving instrumental passages that are as complex as anything you will hear in the genre. Imagine classic Fates Warning but with the complexity kicked up quite a few notches and that's kind of what you get on this one.
Troy shows off his amazing bass technique on the short instrumental "Tendonitis" (wow...that's all I can say), and "The Temple Within" is a down and dirty rocker featuring some crunchy riffs, wild drum work, and Salinas reaching for the heavens with his soaring high pitched metal wail. The guys return to manic machine gun styled riffs & rhythms on "Lies" (complete with an amazing Geoff Tate-ish vocal performance from Salinas), and take things one step further with "The Passion of Words", an ultra-heavy, ultra-complex howitzer that is guaranteed to knock any metal fan completely on his/her ass. Closing number "Severed Angel" sees the band going from quiet passages to out and out bombast, a short instrumental that sort of ends the CD abruptly but forces you to hit PLAY and start it all over again.
Quite frankly, I was hoping for something truly ass kicking from Zero Hour but this was even better than I expected. Dark Deceiver is mind-numbingly heavy, astonishingly complex, and ultimately the most powerful release this band has recorded to date. Play this and Meshuggah's obZen back to back and you have two of the most pummeling technical metal releases that will be released this year. Zero Hour deserves to play with the big boys, so let's see them on some sort of full-scale tour so the metal masses can experience this indestructible machine in person.
Highly, highly recommended!
- Power to Believe
- Dark Deceiver
- Inner Spirit
- The Temple Within
- The Passion of Words
- Severed Angel