"Dark Deceiver" (Sensory; 2008)

Reviewed by Metal Mark

Is it actually possible for an album to have too much, yet not enough, at the same time? That was my main thought while absorbing the latest effort from Zero Hour. Their frantic brand of prog metal frequently has an over the top approach and you feel like they are throwing everything but the kitchen sink into the mix in order to make you notice them. Sometimes that approach works to get your attention but at others it sounds like regurgitated Dream Theater bits with only a slightly different arrangement. 

I was initially impressed by the opener, "Power to Believe," with its soaring vocals and strong rhythm section. Yet soon it began to feel the song should be over already because it had wandered on and on yet my stereo still said Track:1 and I had to endure it even longer. 

Zero Hour have somewhat a darker feel to their music than many of the peers and that helps. I appreciate their technical ability and, if their knowledge of arrangements and ability to portray genuine emotion was on the same level as their playing ability, then they would be pretty special. But this doesn't seem to be the case as the arrangements are just too inconsistent to keep my interest for that long. 

Occasionally, their frenzied parts hit and sometimes it just felt messy. What's worse is that sometimes they will have a part early on where they throw everything in real fast and then 2/3 of the way through the same track they get clogged into some repetitive part. It's almost as if they just want to capture your attention early, but they don't quite have the same ideas or energy to sustain the whole song in that manner. 

"Dark Deceiver" is a decent album due to the band's abilities yet it's far from being a completely satisfying album.

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"Specs of Pictures Burnt Beyond" (Sensory; 2006)

Reviewed by Mike SOS

Fates Warning. Queensryche. Nevermore. Influences you hear on Zero Hour's "Specs of Pictures Burnt Beyond"? Well, watch that final square flip around and jump for joy with Levar Burton, my friend, as you've just won the progressive metal $25,000 Pyramid. 

This Bay Area outfit's fifth installment of progressive metal boasts a new singer, a fresh batch of tunes constructed with painstaking metallic elegance ("I Am Here"), glass-shattering vocals that can actually fluctuate between prog rock overload and everyday metalhead comprehension ("The Falcon's Cry") and enough technical prowess to satisfy all the people anxiously awaiting the next Dream Theater release ("Zero Hour"). 

Backtracking through their catalog to reach the sound of their glorious early period, Zero Hour's seven-track affair contains all the luxurious nuances a prog metal band needs to truly captivate. 

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright 2008 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 14 Aug 2022 15:50:08 -0400 .