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Slavior: Slavior

Slavior is the new band from former Fates Warning/Warlord drummer Mark Zonder, and their debut album also features guitarist/keyboard player Wayne Findlay (Michael Schenker Group), and ex-Tribe of Gypsies singer/bassist Gregg Analla. Originally signed to Greece's Black Lotus Records before the label crumbled to oblivion, Slavior now find themselves on InsideOut Music, a good home for progressive rock and metal bands.

On the initial listen to Slavior, you can hear all sorts of music influences, most of which are not common with bands on the InsideOut label. First and foremost, this is not a progressive metal or prog rock album. Slavior is bubbling with hard rock class, as well as scents of heavy blues, metal, reggae, hip-hop, and modern alternative rock. Zonder's always impressive drum chops are very evident throughout, as are the meaty guitar riffs and flashy solos from Findlay, who was obviously very well hidden from the masses while playing alongside guitar god Michael Schenker the last few years. This guy also has some quality skills. The key to the whole project is singer Analla, who has a wonderfully melodic voice, giving the songs that commercial appeal that is the final piece to the puzzle. Think Sevendust meets Living Colour meets Disturbed and you have somewhat of a reference point. Irresistible hooks meet crunchy riffs on "Swept Away", a song that is sure to appeal to lovers of modern heavy rock, as it has just enough angst to go along with the memorable & catchy melodies. Zonder and his intricate and colorful layers paint the landscape on the mellow mix of reggae, pop, and Rush-like prog on "Altar", complemented by Analla's passionate vocals, while "Another Planet" might just be the heaviest piece on the CD, featuring insane drum fills from Zonder and plenty of beefy guitar licks from Findlay. This one also sees Analla turn in a venomous vocal performance that will have fans of Disturbed howling with delight. The intense "Dove" kicks off with some furious, almost prog-metal type heavy riffs, then morphs into a reggae inflected groove, before the beefy riffs, synths, and energetic vocals come back into the mix. To call this band a chameleon is an understatement! The title track is a great example of dark modern metal with just a hint of Sevendust, and "Give It Up" mixes metal with hip hop and funk, and is a real fun piece, littered with Findlay's gritty licks, Zonder's intricate drum work, and Analla's multi-faceted vocals. The band finally moves into somewhat of a progressive vibe on the last two pieces, the textured and lengthy "Red Road" and the experimental "Come Alive", each one a real gem of progressive tinged modern rock.

With the right amount of promotion and some live shows, there's no reason why Slavior shouldn't be a big hit with the modern rock crowd. InsideOut should be happy that Zonder and his cohorts have fallen into their lap, and with their past successes with many other bands, let's see how far the label can take these guys.

Track Listing
1) Origin
2) Shatter
3) Swept Away
4) Altar
5) Another Planet
6) Deeper
7) Dove
8) Slavior
9) Give It Up
10) Red Road
11) Come Alive

Added: May 7th 2007
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: InsideOut Music
Hits: 5037
Language: english

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Slavior: Slavior
Posted by Butch Jones, SoT Staff Writer on 2007-05-07 06:52:08
My Score:

The name Mark Zonder is a legendary one, while not necessarily being a household one. The awe inspiring, drummer extraordaire that was the driving force behind Fates Warning's classic Parallels and Perfect Symmetry has stepped out on his own to form the Hard Rockin', Slavior. Slavior's self titled debut record (Inside Out Music) is as eclectic as Zonder's drumming has always been. Part Traditional Metal, part Prog Rock, and even hip-hop and reggae elements can be felt in this new project, while all along being much more accessible and more straight forward than any of Zonder's prior doings.

Rounding out Slavior are Michael Schenker's touring guitarist/keyboardist, Wayne Findlay and ex-Tribe of Gypsies (which also featured guitarist/producer Roy Z) vocalist/bassist Gregg Analla. Slavior offer up a heavy groove based, straight ahead effort. Zonder's drumming is the focal point of the band and is a great starting point for the band. Zonder very simply plays his ass off with all sorts of world beats and other percussion ideas mixed into this CD debut.

Slavior are very straight ahead, which is actually a pleasant departure from what Mark Zonder is known for. Don't think for a second that Zonder doesn't bring the goods. He does and then some! This is HIS band and the drums are the basis for everything within Slavior, so heavy on percussion is the deal.

CD opener, "Origin" is a straight up rocker with a Brother Cane/Fuel type of feel to it. Zonder shows how he will be able to add his chops to a more mainstream musical vessel with this opener. The pulsating "Shatter" is a Zonder masterpiece for sure. He pushes the song into new heights while never taking his feet off of the gas. Cozy Powell would be proud!

What makes this record so great is that while this is a drummers CD, it is not a self indulgent. Most CD's of the like are more like "listen to what I can do". Zonder, while playing his ass off on each and every track, does so within the structure of the song and not for his own pleasure. Even the non drummer or musician type will enjoy this CD, and that's the point.

Singer, Gregg Analla's soothing vocals are an added bonus. A soulful singer who's vocals soar along with the songs and not over them, making for a nice mixture, while guitarist, Wayne Findlay adds a lot of texture and some tasty fretwork as well. Slavior is a true 3 piece outfit in the mold of the legendary Rush, ELP, King's X and Triumph.

As a whole, Slavior have produced a crisp, musically diverse record. From reggae styling's to groove oriented rock, Slavior deliver great performances throughout. This is a straight ahead rock record that you will find yourself listening to again and again. Mark Zonder just adds another notch on to his legendary drum god status.

Slavior: Slavior
Posted by Murat Batmaz, SoT Staff Writer on 2007-04-03 11:20:46
My Score:

Slavior is poised to become Inside Out's oddball band, considering there is nothing progressive about their songs in one way or another. But Fates Warning fans have no right to complain -- drummer Mark Zonder, around whose rhythms and grooves these songs were built, has stated right from the get-go that Slavior was formed in order to display his take on modern rock, mixing in wide-ranging elements including reggage, grunge, and even hiphop. Along with MSG guitarist Wayne Findlay and former Tribe of Gypsies vocalist Gregg Analla, the band churns out a curious mix of styles, always focusing on vocal-based, sing-along numbers and never sacrificing basic songwriting ideas in favour of challenging instrumentation.

The vocals of Gregg Analla is central to all of the songs on this debut. While Analla's voice will be the make-it-or-break-it factor to many, he certainly fits the bill, given the intentions behind this project. Having penned mostly angst-ridden lyrics, he does a fine job coming up with strong vocal hooks, and provides an array of vocal styles. He does the rapid-fire spoken hiphop-style vocals; he opts for lower registers; he offers big, riotous choruses, but most importantly, he does a lot of harmony vocals, even on the simplest, most direct cuts. The multi-layered vocal attack at the end of "Swept Away" comes across rather challenging (though wonderfully easy to enjoy) considering the song's otherwise commercial vibe. It is filled with a memorable main melody and deepy grooving rhythmic undercurrent. Similarly, the title track has Anella singing like a hiphop guy at one point, but as Findlay cuts through the piece with a dirty lead solo, the song quickly makes a return to its visceral rock roots.

Mark Zonder is still the greatest drummer in the world -- and his fans from Fates Warning will not be disappointed a second listening to him. The intro of "Shatter" is mindblowing: those fills, the strong rhythmic power, and the excellent groove are all what set him apart from every other drummer out there. This song, unlike others, also boasts a cool acoustic breakdown and some keyboard-generated atmosphere towards the end which is an interesting listen. A personal favourite of mine is "Altar": it begins with cool percussion and takes on a slightly Rush-like feel with its neat arrangement and intense vocal attack. Traces of reggae permeat the considerably heavier "Another Planet", and the song even features a slight electronic sound attachment to it as well as some aggressive vocal lines. Findlay finds the chance to prove how capable a soloist he is on "Give It Up" where he lets out streamrolling electric riffs.

The last track "Red Road" stands out from the rest of the album for its eerie string intro, acoustic melody, and static drum beat. After the song plays out, there is brief silence before the keys return, with weird percussion heard distantly in the background, and Analla relates a poem in a different language before starting this killer vocal harmony -- simply killer. It is this song and the radio-friendly "Dove" which must garner Slavior some airplay, as both songs are imbued with infectious pop choruses, stuff that dominates radio and MTV these days.

However, whether MTV is willing to give these guys a chance given their respective prog leanings remains to be seen. For what it is, this debut album has certainly reached its goals.

Slavior: Slavior
Posted by Ken Pierce, SoT Staff Writer on 2007-03-17 08:49:19
My Score:

Drummer Mark Zonder from Fates Warning is a technical drummer's drummer based on the intricate and oh so tasty dynamics and time signatures we experienced during his tenure with the legendary Progressive Metal band. When he departed the group with their FWX CD, he was still a musician with a lot of ideas and much left to say about the way things were going. His new band would not do epics but instead present shorter and more to the point songs and each of them are led by his incredible levels of groove and understanding of how the drums not only hold a song together but sometimes also guide and morph the melody into a shape that it desires. Zonder would build a band with these ideas and the talented musicianship of Wayne Findlay and Greg Analla. Findlay's resume is impressive for his consistent work with legendary Michael Schenker and he handles lead and rhythm guitars, bass and keyboards on this album. Vocals are Analla's territory and his own diversity as a singer makes this work all the more effectively. The former Tribe Of Gypsies singer has a pure and passionate style to his sound and there are times when you will think of bands like Sevendust and Living Colour from his tones. Combined, the three you a unique mix of Progressive technique, Hard Rock with a Nu-Metal angst and powerful songwriting that will grab the Stone Sour and Sevendust fans right off the bat and even appeal to the ever analytical Prog-Rock contingent. Elements of Rush are felt on "Altar", and the wild "Another Planet" had me thinking of Soundgarden mixed with Disturbed at different points. Now before you slam me for comparing some of the Slavior sound to such noted groups, perhaps you should first address the twenty some bands who sound like Nickelback from top to bottom first. This is truly a tasty release and each time you listen to it you will find new groove that just does it for you. Zonder's playing is everywhere and you will be bopping and tapping on things if you have that percussive edge to you. The guitar work is great and Findlay is to be complimented for his efforts. Clearly the years with MSG have made him that much better. There does not seem to be a style or discipline that he cannot quickly work with based on what I heard here. The debut shows great levels of diversity and style as they take their brand of Melodic Hard Rock and mix it up all the more with elements of Hip-Hop and Reggae; "Dove" is the Reggae tasting treat to enjoy and one of the best on the record while "Slavior" uses some light Hip-Hop wordplay. After listening, I felt that this would be an interesting band to see in the live sense as there is so much energy to the music. Slavior is current, fresh and very exciting on their debut with the crunching and stylish riffs on top of the superb drumming they will surely be able to find a place for themselves in Progressive Melodic Rock's hierarchy. Good job guys.

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