Zero Hour The Towers of Avarice

Sensory Records, who have quickly become one of the finest truly underground metal labels in the world, delivers another stunning piece of progressive metal mastery with this debut release by California's Zero Hour. The quartet plays a somewhat cold, technically proficient style of prog metal. The band plays with such technical precision that their machine gun style comes across with a somewhat mechanical feel. The end result creates a sound that is similar to, but perhaps a bit more stable than, their label-mates from Norway in Spiral Architect. Led by the Tipton brothers on bass and guitar, respectively, both are highly gifted musicians that don't necessarily flood the songs with musical masturbation. Instead, the duo plays hypnotising riffs off of each other that are full of dynamics and atmosphere. In the singing department, the vocals are quite eccentric for this style of music. Vocalist Erik Rosvold comes across almost like prog metal's answer to Maynard from Tool. He has a very aggressive side to his singing, which is almost death metal-like in attitude, although he definitely does not sing with a cookie monster growl - a real original to be sure. It is also worth noting that the production on the record is top notch. The drums have been captured perfectly and the guitar tone is really heavy and crunchy. This is a must for all that like their progressive metal on the heavy yet cold side. Fans of the Sensory label should also be on the lookout for new releases by the bands Ark and Guardian Knot, due before the year's end. (Sensory)