" Combining well-crafted songs with technical proficiency, and raw energy with sonic intensity, the band creates gritty hard rock that bristles with progressive rock influences."
Mile Marker Zero's eponymous release delivers on the above statement, in spades. The album sounds epic and grandiose while remaining very accessible and melodic. The band seems to have taken inspiration from older school progressive metal giants such as Queensryche, Fates Warning, and Dream Theater (Awake-era), yet have infused their own unique imprint on their music, and sound like anything but clones. Made up of musicians who all have backgrounds in music theory and classical performance, MMZ's music is extremely busy and intricate, yet flows with the type of coherence one expects from well-oiled veteran bands. Dave Alley's vocals may be the link to the above-mentionned bands. His style is reminiscent of Geoff Tate, Ray Alder, and James LaBrie, yet he avoids a lot of the over-the-top histrionics too often associated with progressive metal vocalists. His delivery, while dramatic, never becomes cringe-inducing. His voice is what leads the charge on the 10 tracks that make up this disc., but rest assured, there's a lot more to this band than his voice. Whether delivering epics like "Crimson Red" or pounding out gritty metal anthems like "Reaping Tide", every band member fires on all cylinders throughout. Most impressive is the work of guitarist John Tuohy. The band never abases itself to shred levels and I'd like to think it's because their guitar player is just so tasteful. His solos soars majestically over very intricate passages yet always remain very fluid and melodic. This isn't to say that the other members aren't equally proficient on their respective instruments, but merely to point out that "less-is-more" can still be prevalent in music that still seems to be very busy.
It would be hard to point out any particular song and claim it to be the best, and that's because the band approached this album as one cohesive entity, and not just a collection of disjointed material. To quote guitarist Tuohy: " We're very particular and a little bit anal about how things flow. We work hard on making every part fit and we exhaust the possibilities on any given song, so it usually takes a long time to write things and get them perfect. And we polish everything until everybody in the group is happy with everything." It's good to see such a democratic approach applied to a band and it becomes quite apparent when listening to this disc that a lot of time and effort went into producing it. However, there are some highlights on this album; songs that jump out at the listener more than others (of course this is subjective, but…). Personally, I like the grittier material such as "Reaping Tide" and "Laceration", but there's something to be said for the more elaborate pieces such as "Crimson Red" or " In Loving Memory Of…", which offer up more progressive pomp and showcase the entire band to their fullest advantage.
In a genre where bands feel like they need to sound exactly like somebody else in order to get any kind of recognition, it's very refreshing to listen to one that has the confidence to forge ahead on a sound uniquely their own. Mile Marker Zero's eponymous release is a strong musical statement, brimming over with myriad influences which have been forged into a powerful and unique alloy. Fans of progressive metal that has a slightly darker edge, superlative musicianship, and ambiguous lyrical content should seek this one out.
- A Thousand Nights
- A Kiss To Fix
- Crimson Red
- In Loving Memory Of…
- Peril Aerial
- Reaping Tide