Now here’s a band I’ve been meaning to check out for a while. ZERO HOUR is back with their fourth long player and it’s clear that the Californians have quite a following eager to snap this album up. The band’s apparently made up of a bunch of workaholics, as they turned around and released this Progressive/Technical beast a year after “A Fragile Mind.” Somewhere along the way they exchanged vocalists and picked up Chris Salinas (ex-POWER OF OMENS). I can’t comment on the previous vocalist, but Salinas is a strong choice with a clear voice and an only mild tendency to stay in the annoyingly high range. He really shines on the mostly acoustic “I Am Here,” where he avoids the histrionics.
This is some good, classy stuff. It’s professional, vaguely in the DREAM THEATER model but more immediate. Most of the time. Sometimes they drift a bit, but when it’s focused this material is strong, varied, and technical. I think I said that before. No, they won’t alienate you with a wall of sound only a person with a degree in advanced music theory could understand. They will keep you interested with cascading, twittering, convulsing, and turning riffs. Though the focus is on riffs and progressions that everybody follows, solo enthusiasts won’t be disappoint: just look to the end of “Specs Of Pictures Burnt Beyond” to find a sweet one repeated acoustically in “Zero Hour.” It’s a nice touch.
Most of the songs are of appropriate Prog length. “Face The Fear” hits the nine minute mark and features a long internal period of calm. “Specs Of Pictures…,” “Evidence Of The Unseen,” and “The Falcon’s Cry” break the seven minute mark. Admittedly, I’m not as enthralled with this album as a lot of reviewers seem to be—some of the soft drifting parts just carry on too long, too pointlessly for me—but this is good stuff that any Prog fan shouldn’t be without.
It seems that between this and TWISTED INTO FORM, Prog is having a great year-end showing. And between these guys, CANVAS SOLARIS, and DEGREE ABSOLUTE, Sensory’s on a roll for 2006.
(Online December 14, 2006)