Having turned the page resolutely on their previous project, PAIN AND PASSION, the band members have gone by the name ZERO ILLUSIONS for five eventful years now. As of what I have read, the band played Heavy Metal under its old name; however, the reason why the name has changed is nowhere to be found, and I am not willing to guess at the psychology of it. According to the band’s official website, this self-released debut ‘has been remarkably well-received by reviewers and ZERO ILLUSIONS has been called a “new Swedish hope” in Sweden Rock magazine'. Additionally, the quartet would like you to keep an eye out for them, since ‘they are fast becoming the most talked about Rock band to hail from Sweden in a very long time’. However, as much as I would like to suggest that you stay vigilant, I am certain that all the talking, if any, is much ado about nothing.
Nonetheless, that is not to say I regard the record as a total fiasco; however, when it comes to Progressive music, originality is never a minor requisite. Otherwise, why would have they changed name and style, if they had not found the current style more fulfilling that the one they had used to play? Here is a genre that permits musicians and composers to fire all the weapons they have at their disposal; yet, ZERO ILLUSIONS seem to feel safer playing their music by the book – hence the loss of character. The performance is so boringly restrained that it sounds quite robotic, and the compositions are anything but inventive—particularly to those familiar with the early works of FATES WARNING. Furthermore, Björn Asking’s voice is more or less a shade of John Arch’s; however, he does not sound quite at ease hitting (or trying to hit) high notes, as he does not seem to mind going nasal.
Although the music is mostly rooted in old-school Power and Progressive Metal, the spirit of the age is not consentingly summoned; it feels as forced as a late sleeper’s smile on a sub-zero Monday morning. Regardless to the disparity in musicianship, FATES WARNING and HELSTAR are the two bands that most come to mind when listening to “Enter Eternity”; yet, ZERO ILLUSIONS seem to be so indulged in reminiscence that many of the riffs would not really sound out of place, if they were included in RIOT’s “Rock City”. Most of the songs are gloomily dark – that is a plus – and many of the vocal lines—the eeriest of which are highly memorable—are quite as Doom-y as SORCERER’s. Yet, metaphorically speaking, if songs were waves and eardrums seashores, “Enter Eternity” would feel as if it comprised a single cyclic wave that laps the shore eleven successive times repetitively leaving a transient trace that is constantly destined to fade away.
Oddly enough, I have not been able to find the key to enter ZERO ILLUSIONS’ eternity, my love for the bands mentioned above notwithstanding. Although I like bits and pieces of each song, there is not one that feels complete. “Face Of The Fortune” with its ANGEL DUST-ish chorus; “Left Alone” with its genuine despondency; “Once In My Life” with its Hansen-esque touch; and the MAIDEN-esque “The Moment I Fear”, are by and large the best shots ZERO ILLUSIONS has taken, yet without succeeding to hit bull’s eye. Thus, contradicting Sweden Rock’s announcement, I can basically see zero hopes in ZERO ILLUSIONS; otherwise, the Swedish camp must be going downhill. I have already given the record six listens expecting it to grow on me; however, at the end of the day, I have come to realise that the music is, to put it mildly, paralysed.
(Online July 20, 2009)