Zero Hour - The Towers of Avarice
Sensory Records
Extreme Progressive Metal
6 songs (45'27)
Release year: 2001
Zero Hour, Sensory Records
Reviewed by Ben
Archive review

First things first. Zero Hour is not a band that you can just jump into and fully grasp with one listen. They are as progressive as progressive music gets and they also put the METAL back into Progressive Metal. This isn’t your typical neo-jazz-fusion-slow-boring-‘we-love-the-hammond-organ-effect-on-our-korg-and-use-it-on-every-damn-song’-old-man-prog rock that seems to find its way to my ears unfortunately, rather, The Towers of Avarice is a dense experience that is actually heavy, actually worthy of the term metal. Clocking in at forty five minutes and with only six tracks this is a rarity for a Progressive album seeing as the general rule of a Progressive cd is that it must be at least eight tracks long and 78’55 in length. Unlike the usual bloated mess of said 75 minute plus albums, The Towers of Avarice gets to the point very quickly and doesn't leave a bad taste in your mouth / ears when it's through. I'd rather have forty five minutes of intricate, ENJOYABLE Progressive Metal than have a big hour long plus slab of convoluted mess, of which if you don't like it it is "just too complex for you to understand you immature loser." Anyways, The Towers of Avarice is a concept album that takes place in the future. The world is a desolate wasteland and the Towers have risen above all and consume people as if they were nothing but batteries. In this bleak future one man, The Subterranean, decides to take on the Towers as he believes he is mankinds final hope for salvation. Good stuff huh? Unlike some concept albums / story arch’s, you really get interested in this one. The lyrics are really detailed and paint a vivid picture of the world that Zero Hour has created for you the listener. For the backdrop to the story the music is a lush soundscape of harsh elements that blend together seamlessly. Really, when I first heard The Towers of Avarice I was just like, “uh what the hell is this?” and put it up. A couple of hours later I was still thinking about it and put it back on and forced myself to listen to it a track at a time and eventually I began to hear the delicate nuances that were going on all the time. Like I said, you need to force yourself to listen to this album especially if you are unfamiliar with Progressive Metal. Bands like Pagan’s Mind and Symphony X have Prog elements but are nowhere near as rich and full on Progressive as Zero Hour.

It’s pretty hard to describe the music of a band like this so I’ll do my best. When the opener, the title track begins the listener is greeted by an almost overwhelming barrage of bass and drums, and underlaid is a nice guitar melody that is both pleasing to the ear yet has a harsh edge to it as well. The charm of this band is that they make you work for your listening pleasure, none of their songs are instantly catchy there are no anthems either. Some listeners might be put off by this aspect, but the reward is definitely gratifying when it all comes together and clicks, and when it clicks it clicks hard. There aren’t many solos on the album but twins Jasun and Troy Tipton, guitars and bass, each have their own things going on and despite the fact that there’s no “look at me play guitar, I’m so good aren’t I? Huh, huh? ” solo sections you are very well aware that they are both extremely competent and skilled musicians. Vocalist Erik Rosvald is a force to be reckoned with as well. He has a very large range and employs his voice with skill and precision. He has the ability to emote whatever he has to sing with ease and brings the lyrics that he wrote to life making the listening experience that much better in the end. Drummer Mike Guy hits his kit pretty hard and has many fills and drum patterns that keep the rhythm section alive. Anyways, back to the songs. The Subterranean is the second shortest track and perhaps the most easily accessible. It has a constant speedy feel to it and doesn’t have as many twists and turns as the other songs do. Strategem is in my opinion a song that is perfect for summing up Zero Hour in a nutshell. Powerful, heavy and at some times downright chaotic this is eight minutes of pure bliss for a hardcore Prog Metal fan. The epic track, Demise and Vestige is a biting number that is broken up by several quiet interludes. The basslines are prevalent throughout the duration and Erik gives a particularly splendid vocal performance as well.

I would recommend Zero Hour to listeners who want to broaden their horizons and delve into Progressive Metal. Be warned though, unless you are already a Progressive Metal aficionado then The Towers of Avarice will most likely go way over your head on the first few listens like it did to me. It took me awhile to appreciate music like this but the ends justified the wait and that’s what I ask for in a band.

Killing Songs :
The Towers of Avarice, Strategem, and Demise and Vestige
Ben quoted 85 / 100
Other albums by Zero Hour that we have reviewed:
Zero Hour - Dark Deceiver reviewed by Marty and quoted 70 / 100
Zero Hour - Specs Of Pictures Burnt Beyond reviewed by Ken and quoted 95 / 100
Zero Hour - A Fragile Mind reviewed by Ben and quoted 87 / 100
Zero Hour - Metamorphosis reviewed by Ben and quoted 82 / 100
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