ZERO HOUR seem to have been around for a number of years, releasing self produced albums and known to those who like the more Power Metal influenced subset of Prog music. My initial reaction to “A Fragile Mind” was a recalling of NEVERMORE with some specific moments eerily reminiscent of QUEENSRYCHE. The sum of this together obviously with ZERO HOUR’s own mapping across the Progressive landscape is a well executed group of songs that do little to peek my interest. One of the issues is the simply that too often throughout the album it slows to fluffy moments of tranquillity that don’t register with me at all.
In a way “A Fragile Mind” reminds me quite a bit of an album I reviewed by LYRANTHE. What sets that album apart from “A Fragile Mind” is that LYRANTHE’s effort had a more powerful driving guitar which also contained more memorable and accessible hooks and melodies even for a hardened Metaller like myself. Walter Ballard, the LYRANTHE singer, also has far a greater range and force than that of Fred Marshall the front man for ZERO HOUR. Marshall sounds a little too robotic at times, lacking the nuance needed to accompany the areas the band forays into in both their more progressive moments and melodious sections.
Now as I often do, this isn’t all to say “A Fragile Mind” doesn’t have some moments of nice grooves and biting riffage. The chorus for “Destiny Is Sorrow” is one of those parts, a punch of nice double bass drum accompanied by a solid digging guitar chord. Then again shortly after the song delves back into a softer few bars that lose me in their. Reviewing a band like ZERO HOUR and an album like “A Fragile Mind” comes with a bit of guilt for me since I know the record is well performed and produced and may appeal to many, yet it just isn’t what I find engaging. If the songs were to keep their heavier moments, have Marshall use the edgier tone he uses in “Brain Surgery” then I’d be more apt to throw it back in for some more spins. (Online May 23, 2006)