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Zero Hour

Progressive Metal

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Zero Hour A Fragile Mind album cover
3.80 | 54 ratings | 6 reviews | 22% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2005

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Intro (0:06)
2. There for Me (4:37)
3. Destiny Is Sorrow (8:00)
4. Brain Surgery (3:12)
5. Losing Control (3:45)
6. Twice the Pain (4:20)
7. Somnecrophobia (3:09)
8. A Fragile Mind (11:33)
9. Intrinsic (5:23)

Total Time 44:05

Line-up / Musicians

- Fred Marshall / vocals
- Jasun Tipton / guitar, keyboards
- Troy Tipton / bass
- Mike Guy / drums

Releases information

Artwork: Travis Smith

CD Sensory ‎- SR3028 (2005, US)

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ZERO HOUR A Fragile Mind ratings distribution

(54 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(22%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(31%)
Good, but non-essential (31%)
Collectors/fans only (11%)
Poor. Only for completionists (4%)

ZERO HOUR A Fragile Mind reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by AtLossForWords
5 stars 45 minutes of progressive metal equates to 45 minutes of spectacular music.

Zero Hour's latest studio release is A Fragile Mind. The album is quite an original piece of work, mixing shorter hard hitting metal tunes togethor with progressive creativity. Zero Hour's A Fragile Mind is one of the best releases of this year that sadly lacks the acclaim it deserves.

The guitars are nothing short of amazing. Composer Jasun Tipton is the driving creative force in the band, and his leadership shows with his excellent playing. His guitar tones are strong and variant. His style combines great melodic flow with quick arpeggiated passages. The works showcase his talents in a variety of key and time signatures. I haven't heard guitar playing this unique, pleasing, and technical from younger bands in quite awhile. It may be safe to say that Tipton easily rivals the most renowned players in progressive metal like Petrucci and Jarzmobek in shear technical skill.

The bass playing is another highlight. Brother Troy Tipton has near equal chops. Songs like Twice the Pain, the title track a Fragile Mind, and the outro Intrinsic showcase his great chops and melodic capabilities. The bass playing on this album is some of the strongest, technical, and most creative I have ever heard. Not many metal bassists can come within the level Troy Tipton is at. His groove is amazing too. He can cycle through time changes and blend so well with the drums. This is an incredibly strong performance. The Tipton brothers are definately two of the best young players in progressive metal.

The vocals, well I haven't even talked about them yet. (That's how good the other two guys are, they can upstage a vocalist of this quality). When I heard Erik Rosvald had left Zero Hour I was quite disappointed. Up until hearing the album, I really couldn't fathom what kind of a performance the new vocalist would yield. Fred Marshall came through like I couldn't believe. He matched and surpassed whatever standards Rosvald had set on previous works. His vocal style is quite similar, but with fewer effects. His vocals are well harmonized and perfectly in tune with the instruments in the band. He doesn't try to oversing like some other vocalists in progressive metal. He stays within a comfortable yet wide range.

The drums are yet another impressive part. With rapid signature changes and irregular beats, Mike Guy does a great job of holding down the groove while mixing in enough fills to keep fans of the most technical drum work happy. The tone of his drums is impressive as his playing. His kit sounds big but certainly not overpowering.

The production like the rest of this album is perfect. The guitars are variant with great authentic effects. The distortion is strong but clear, which is the perfect mix for any metal guitarist. The bass is unique, it retains a lot of bottom end while deliver quite an attack on the highs. The vocals are harmonized perfectly with great enunciation and warmth . The few effects that are used on the voice are clear and refreshing. The drums have perfect tonality and sit well in the mix balanced out perfectly with the rest of the band.

This is a true five star album. I the only way the band could have made it better would be to make it longer, but how greedy could I be. This is not a groundbreaking release for Zero Hour (they're first two albums were quite impressive as well). It certainly is their strongest release though. This album can keep the listener intrested from start to finish, it's not often 45 minutes of progressive metal is enough. This time it is. Great effort, great result.

Review by b_olariu
4 stars This is an excellent and well played album. The album is the second best they ever done so far, after the fabulous The towers of avarice. Zero Hour's A Fragile Mind is one of the best releases of prog metal that is very underrated in my opinion. For me is 4 stars, no doubt. Composer Jasun Tipton is the driving creative force in the band, and his leadership shows with his excellent playing and talent, his brother, the bass player, is nothing then a magnific musician, he can create really good bass lines and intristing time signature on the instrument. The vocal is a damn good one, and fits very well in the music. The drums is another impressive part of the whole machine that is Zero Hour. All in all this is a 4 star album that needs attention from you. Forte tracks all, but 4 of them are beyond ear candy, There for me, Losing control, A fragile mind, and the amzing final track Intrinsic. 4 stars really.
Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars If your a ZERO HOUR fan you need to know that this one continues with their formula of complexity and heaviness. Man is it heavy ! A new vocalist is on board by the name of Fred Marshall and he doesn't disappoint, in fact he also had a hand in writing the lyrics for these songs.Travis Smith did the cover art as usual. Some of the bands they thank are POWER OF OMENS, EVERGREY, WATCHTOWER, SUN CAGED, SYMPHONY X, PAIN OF SALVATION, WOLVERINE, BLIND GUARDIAN and SILENT FORCE.

After a 6 second intro track they get into it with "There For Me". It starts of with synths that are quickly wiped out by a stampede of drums and bass. The bass is huge ! Vocals join in before some cool sounding guitar 2 1/2 minutes in that seem to swirl. An eerie calm after 3 minutes before the heaviness returns. "Destiny Is Sorrow" opens with more thunderous drums and bass as the guitar comes in and out. Vocals before a minute. Very heavy riffs 3 minutes in. I like the calm before 4 minutes with reserved vocals that lasts 2 minutes. Nice. A great sound 6 1/2 minutes in with vocals. An atmospheric calm again to end it. "Brain Surgery" is crushingly heavy with vocals. A change 2 minutes in as it settles down briefly then back to the thunder.

"Losing Control" isn't as heavy(it's still heavy) as the other songs but is rather atmospheric at times. Mike Guy puts on a drum clinic here.Complex guitar parts too "Twice The Pain" is a dark song with heavy outbursts. It builds with prominant bass before vocals come in. Great track. "Somnecrophobia" is a heavy duty instrumental with some excellent guitar. "A Fragile Mind" is the amazing 11 1/2 minute title track. A tasteful guitar intro with vocals after a minute. Bass and drums add some bottom end 3 1/2 minutes in. Very heavy before 5 minutes with deep spoken vocals. A great sound when it lightens briefly. It settles again before 8 minutes and I love the guitar that follows. "Intrinsic" is another instrumental. This one is a fantastic laid back number with some heavy bass. It even gets spacey 3 1/2 minutes in to the end. Incredible tune.

This album seems to get better as it plays out. While I may prefer "The Towers Of Avarice" and later albums, this one is well worth 4 stars.The second half of the album isn't as punishing as the first half and it makes for a nice contrast.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "A Fragile Mind" is the 3rd full-length studio album by US, California based progressive metal act Zero Hour. The album was released through Sensory Records in September 2005. Itīs the successor to "The Towers of Avarice" from 2001 and features one lineup change since the predecessor as lead vocalist Erik Rosvold has been replaced by Fred Marshall. The Tipton-brothers are still there on guitars and bass, and so is drummer Mike Guy.

Stylistically the lead vocalist change hasnīt affected the music that much, as Marshall has a voice and singing style which is quite similar to Rosvoldīs ditto, although I personally think the latter is able to sing with more passion and conviction than the former (itīs details though). "A Fragile Mind" is still quite a different sounding release to its dark sci-fi story technical/progressive metal predecessor, which is quickly apparent from reading the lyrics which deal with mental illness/depression. Weīre still in dark subject matter lyric territory, but far from the sci-fi story telling of the predecessor. The instrumental part of the music is technical/progressive metal featuring complex rhythms, fast and very busy guitar/bass parts, heavy riffs, and melodic but also slightly more aggressive vocal parts. The heavy and technical late 90s/early 00s releases by Fates Warning are not the worst references (also because of the dynamic nature of the music, which in addition to the heavy and complex parts also feature more mellow and atmospheric parts), but Zero Hour are generally a bit more focused on technical playing and in that respect they are closer in style to artists like Watchtower and Sieges Even, although they ultimately sound very little like the influences.

"A Fragile Mind" features a powerful, heavy, and detailed sounding production, which suits the material perfectly. Troy Tiptonīs unique bass playing has always been one of the defining elements of Zero Hourīs sound, and the bass has been given a prominent but at the same time well balanced place in the mix. Definitely a good production choice. "A Fragile Mind" is overall a very heavy release and also quite a bit more heavy than what youīd normally expect from a progressive metal release, but thatīs one of the great assets of Zero Hour. They skillfully combine heaviness, melody, and technically complex riffs and rhythms with what sounds like ease. The material are generally strong, varied, and intriguing (listen to the hardedged and heavy "Brain Surgery", the 11 minutes long title track or the closing atmospheric instrumental "Intrinsic" for proof of diversity), and upon conclusion "A Fragile Mind" is another high quality release by Zero Hour. Itīs not quite as original nor as groundbreaking as "The Towers of Avarice (2001)", but itīs still a quality technical/progressive metal release and a 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.

(Originally posted on Metal Music Archives)

Review by 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.

Latest members reviews

3 stars Although the album isn't a bad work, certain repetition can be detected in the musical concept of the band. However we still find some moments of good music, such as: "there for me" (the catchiest song on the album in my opinion), "destiny is sorrow", "Somnecrophobia" (the most virtuous instru ... (read more)

Report this review (#94364) | Posted by | Thursday, October 12, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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