Released: 2011, Steamhammer
Stormzone are back with their third kick at the can. I always like it when a band can make it past their sophomore album. Its shows they have perseverance, dedication, a growing fan-base, and enough creativity to make a career in the Metal arts. Most bands never make it this far.
Several years back my colleague Anders reviewed the bands debut album CAUGHT IN THE ACT and it didn’t catch his ear. I haven’t heard either of the two previous discs but I certainly do enjoy ZERO TO RAGE. This quintet from Ireland have made the jump to SPV and put out this album late in 2011.
It’s a long record, the dozen cuts clock in at almost 70 minutes. The band tends to write some longer songs with nine of them running in the six-minute range. The album is a good value, the production is just fine and they have an eye-catching cover as well. There has been a line-up shuffle with a new guitarist coming on board in the form of Steve Moore.
Musically, the band fall right in the classic NWOBHM zone which isn’t surprising considering John Harbinson (vocals) and David Bates (Drums) both used to be in Sweet Savage. The band combines equal doses of harmony and melody to great affect. From ZERO TO RAGE doesn’t have all that much ‘rage’ in it per se, it’s not amazingly heavy or aggressive, but it does have a nice steamrolling, driving sound and feel. My favourite cut is likely ‘Jester’s Laughter’, with a spooky echoed laughter effect similar to Ozzy on ‘Bark At The Moon’. The tempo of the album is not all that fast, but as mentioned drives along nicely with a good sense of pace, although I would like to see the band cut loose a bit more.
Harbinson hits some great notes in the chorus of ‘This Is Our Victory’ (Time to die!) and his entire vocal performance is admirable. ‘Hail The Brave’ is another uplifting track with an inspirational lyric and soaring vocal performance reminiscent oddly enough of Aaron Randall of Annihilator…to my ears anyway. ZERO TO RAGE is certainly not ground-breaking but decent performances combined with good song-writing make for a very enjoyable classic Metal album. I think the band is capable of a little bit more. Maybe cut down the songs a touch, eliminate some filler, speed up a bit and let the guitar team cut-loose and do more raging solo battles or something and Stormzone could go from a very good band to a great band.