Released: 2001, Sensory Records
I discovered this band when I ordered the classic Symphony X album “Divine Wings of Tragedy” for a friend. When DWOT came, a promo fell out advertising a new release from an “extreme progressive metal” band by the name of Zero Hour. Being the progressive fan that I am, Sensory Records suckered ... uh, effectively marketed their product to me, and I ended up getting myself a copy.
Prog is most often defined by the way the instruments are played. Having said that, the member of Zero Hour who best uses his instrument is Erik Rosvold, the vocalist. Rosvold has pretty good range and a relatively unique voice. In the lower registers he is very good while in the higher registers he tends to revert to a bit of a growl. I have no problem with that, since I sometimes grow weary of the high-pitched singing style so prominent in prog and power metal. Perhaps most importantly, Rosvald conveys a lot of drama and emotion with his voice. Examples include his performance on the soft, guitar-driven Reflections, as well as during The Ghosts of Dawn, where at one point his voice becomes so tinged with desperation you can’t help but be reminded of the shrill voice Roger Waters breaks into during moments on Pink Floyd’s “The Wall”.
Also worthy of note is that the bass parts, handled by Troy Tipton, play a big role in this album, often blending nicely with the drumming. Few bands use the bass guitar as more than a background instrument providing a steady rhythm to the music. With Zero Hour, the bass plays a large role, though at times the tone sounds a little muddy. It’s definitely a highlight of the album though and I wish more bands would make the bass parts a more prominent feature in their music.
I should also add that “The Towers of Avarice” is yet another in a long line of concept albums that have been coming out the past couple years. TTOA offers a gloomy picture of what a technologically-driven society can become and has sort of an Orwellian thing going. I expected the music to have more of a doomy feel to it, especially considering the concept and since it was advertised as “extreme”, which it definitely is not. Also, during some of the longer instrumental sections, which are traditionally the hallmark of good prog, the playing becomes repetitive and uninteresting. All in all, this is not a bad album. Progressive fans will enjoy it more than metal fans in general. Given some better promotion Zero Hour may make some noise in the prog metal world before long. They’ve definitely developed some momentum to build on.
Official website: http://www.zerohourweb.com