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Zero Hour - A Fragile Mind CD (album) cover

A FRAGILE MIND

Zero Hour

 

Progressive Metal

3.68 | 50 ratings

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Windhawk
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars US band ZERO HOUR was formed back in the 1990's, and while it might be the case that they are inactive at the time of writing they had the time and opportunity to make themselves fairly well known until the band appeared to ebb out. "A Fragile Mind" was their third full length album, and was released through Laser's Edge subdivison Sensory Records back in 2005.

Progressive metal is what Zero Hour is all about, and a variety of it that is somewhat different from what many other bands described as such explore as well. More challenging for starters, and focusing on other elements than mood, atmosphere and melody as such. Or perhaps one might say that they focus on additional elements, as their music isn't void of either of the three elements mentioned.

Bass and drums have a much more prominent place in the arrangements assembled by Zero Hour. Fairly loud and dominant, they provide much of the heavy characteristics of the themes of that nature found on this album. While we're treated to a fine array of massive, dark guitar riffs throughout admittedly, just as common if not more so are guitars with more of a dampened and controlled expression, compact riffs supplementing the heavy bass and drums driven foundation rather than the latter supplementing the former.

Rather than opting for melody and harmony based riff arrangements Zero Hour tend to utilize staccato and hammering ones, often repetitive and uniform in expression, with subtle variations in timbre and quirky details of a technical nature catering for the majority of variation. In addition we're treated to a vast array of alterations in pace, intensity and tonal range, emphasizing the challenging nature that tends to be a key feature of the compositions at hand. Curiously dampened, breakneck speed shred based guitar soloing also a part of the proceedings, as is occasional odd choices of timbre used by the guitar in particular.

Rather than opting for a purebred album of compositions focusing solely on challenging, technical features, Zero Hour does know how and when to employ a gentler touch too. Frail, delicate themes and passages is also a part of the totality here, and the lead vocals of Fred Marshall elevates quite a few of these compositions to a higher level with his melodic, compelling and powerful voice.

Personally I found "A Fragile Mind" to be somewhat of a roller-coaster ride overall. The band's technical approach, at least in the manner in which it is utilized here, didn't quite manage to attract my interest. Then again some of the more intricate maneuvers appealed strongly, and as the former and the latter both tend to be employed in the compositions the end result are songs that for me at least leaves me both hot and cold. They do manage to create some compositions with a stronger overall appeal as well though, There for Me and Losing Control the ones I'd select as highlights.

Those with a keen interest in the more challenging varieties of progressive metal should find Zero Hour to be a band well worth exploring. The subtle, often minimalistic and technically oriented details they employ throughout won't make this band a universally or broadly appealing one I suspect, but those who find that description to be a tantalizing one should most likely take the time to give this band a few minutes of their time.

Windhawk | 3/5 |

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