Released: 2014, Metal Blade Records
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
Belgium's CHANNEL ZERO have had an interesting existence. The now-Metal Blade Records band formed in 1990 before disbanding at the height of their powers in 1997, only to return to the music world around 2010 for another round of metallic groove. As if that wasn't enough, their Phil Baheux passed away aged 45 last year. But the band continued on, recruiting Roy Mayorga of SOULFLY and STONE SOUR fame to handle to sticks on “Kill All Kings”, their sixth release and first for Metal Blade.
There is the notion that hard times breeds good music, and as much as the strife the band have endured in recent times is tragic, they've clearly used it to positive effect – this is a strong release. It is forty-five minutes of heavy, chunky, chugging metal reminiscent of FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH and METALLICA, and fans of solid modern metal will lap this up with glee.
“Dark Passenger” burns slowly into life before erupting into a blazing opener, stating the band's snarling, chugging intentions for the album from the get-go. “Burn The Nation”'s “burn, burn, burn the nation” refrain is infectious; finding a snug home in your brain whilst the searing lead thrown in by Mikey Doling certainly lifts the latter third to another height. His riffs are well-thought out and pulverising; never straying too far into complexity which makes “Kill All Kings” a straight-up headbanging record. Roy Mayorga's turn behind the kit is a fine tribute to the late Baheux whilst Tino De Martino feels at home with the new man in the rhythm section. “Brother's Keeper” is where vocalist Franky DSVD shines – showcases both his best Hetfield and his excellent vocal range; crooning during the softer passages before ripping into a throat-bothering powerhouse wail during the chorus.
Whilst a strong record, it doesn't offer anything new to the platform set by the aforementioned bands. Every song feels like it has been carefully crafted to formula and never goes on longer than is strictly necessary. However it would have been nice for a little variety in song length and content – there is a benefit to the meticulous crafting here, but it feels a little too geared for radio. Having said that, the contrast between “Kill All Kings” and “Brother's Keeper” works so well – one minute it is unbridled thrash fury, next it is “tender” ballad. Finale “Heart Stop” melds these two together beautifully and provides a great closer – further evidence of the great production job on-hand here.
CHANNEL ZERO can rest easy that this album will sit will amongst the throngs of people at festivals this summer, where they are due to play Belgian festivals such as Dour, Alcatraz and Zandrock, amongst others. These songs are made for headbanging and moshing with beers in summer sun. If you can't make these dates, then grab a crate and sit down to listen.
Review by: Lee Carter