ZERO HOUR

Progressive Metal • United States
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In 1993, almost everyone thought that metal was history. Guitarist Jasun Tipton and bassist Troy Tipton, twin brothers from the San Francisco Bay Area, did not succumb to these prevailing doubts. They believed that even through the darkest hour, metal would live on, and they set about forming a band that would not only keep progressive metal in a place of honor, but would shatter the mold in the process. And so in creating Zero Hour, the brothers envisioned a dark, heavy, emotional vibe, expressed through intricate arrangements, forceful vocals, and meaningful lyrics.

Zero Hour self-financed their first release which established the group as a prog-metal tour de force upon its issuance in 1998; an initial pressing of 2,000 units sold out quickly, leaving fans worldwide anxiously awaiting more Zero Hour material. The praises of the press flowed from around the globe, and the self-titled debut garnered raves from Flash
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ZERO HOUR Discography

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ZERO HOUR Zero Hour album cover 3.75 | 4 ratings
Zero Hour
Progressive Metal 1999
ZERO HOUR The Towers of Avarice album cover 3.89 | 11 ratings
The Towers of Avarice
Progressive Metal 2001
ZERO HOUR Metamorphosis album cover 3.50 | 3 ratings
Metamorphosis
Progressive Metal 2003
ZERO HOUR A Fragile Mind album cover 4.12 | 5 ratings
A Fragile Mind
Progressive Metal 2005
ZERO HOUR Specs of Pictures Burnt Beyond album cover 3.93 | 7 ratings
Specs of Pictures Burnt Beyond
Progressive Metal 2006
ZERO HOUR Dark Deceiver album cover 3.93 | 9 ratings
Dark Deceiver
Progressive Metal 2008
ZERO HOUR Agenda 21 album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Agenda 21
Progressive Metal 2022

ZERO HOUR EPs & splits

ZERO HOUR live albums

ZERO HOUR demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

ZERO HOUR Zero Hour album cover 3.00 | 1 ratings
Zero Hour
Progressive Metal 1994

ZERO HOUR re-issues & compilations

ZERO HOUR singles (0)

ZERO HOUR movies (DVD, Blu-Ray or VHS)

ZERO HOUR Reviews

ZERO HOUR The Towers of Avarice

Album · 2001 · Progressive Metal
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Warthur
Like a great swathe of progressive metal bands, Zero Hour are somewhat influenced by Dream Theater, though their debut album is apparently where you will hear that the most. This followup to that is notably more aggressive and dark than Dream Theater; imagine if Megadeth at their most technically complex (say, on Rust In Peace) ended up incorporating just a bit more prog into their approach, and you'll end up with something not a million miles away from this, especially when it comes to Erik Rosvold's lead vocals.

The band seem to particularly like their staccato playing, and the absence of a dedicated keyboardist certainly helps to set their sound apart from Dream Theater - though there are keyboards on the album here and there, with no one member using them as their primary influence they are used for occasional extra texture, and the instrumentation is largely kept to a stripped-down core of guitar, bass, and drums.

It's all quite sparse and dramatic, but overall the band seem to be ploughing a fairly narrow furrow here - if you really like their overall style, you'll absolutely love the album, but I suspect most people won't want a ton of Zero Hour albums in this vein because the similarities become compositions become all too evident a mere two songs in.

ZERO HOUR A Fragile Mind

Album · 2005 · Progressive Metal
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UMUR
"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. It´s 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 hasn´t affected the music that much, as Marshall has a voice and singing style which is quite similar to Rosvold´s ditto, although I personally think the latter is able to sing with more passion and conviction than the former (it´s 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. We´re 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 Tipton´s unique bass playing has always been one of the defining elements of Zero Hour´s 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 you´d normally expect from a progressive metal release, but that´s 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. It´s not quite as original nor as groundbreaking as "The Towers of Avarice (2001)", but it´s still a quality technical/progressive metal release and a 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.

ZERO HOUR The Towers of Avarice

Album · 2001 · Progressive Metal
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UMUR
"The Towers of Avarice" is the 2nd full-length studio album by US, California based progressive metal act Zero Hour. The album was released through Sensory Records in March 2001. It´s the successor to the independently released eponymously titled debut album from 1999 (reissued by Sensory Records in 2003 titled "Metamorphosis") and features one lineup change since the predecessor as keyboard player Matt Guillory has left. Guillory has not been replaced here, and instead the keyboards on "The Towers of Avarice" are recorded by lead vocalist Erik Rosvold and guitarist Jasun Tipton.

The instrumentation on "The Towers of Avarice" is predominantly pretty stripped down to one guitar, bass, drums, and vocals, and the use of keyboards is sparse and mostly used to enhance atmopshere, which is quite a change from the omnipresence of keyboards on the predecessor. The Dream Theater influence on the debut album which was very much due to how the keyboards were played and how they were placed in the mix, is now completely gone from Zero Hour´s music, and "The Towers of Avarice" features a rather unique progressive metal sound. The music is dark, hard edged and heavy, and the more stripped down instrumentation provides the band´s sound with a raw and organic feel. The guitar riffs vary between fast-paced chromatic notes and crushingly heavy staccato riffs in odd time signatures. The bass has a life of it´s own, and both compliments the guitar, but also locks in with the heavy technical grooves of the drums, and even has some lead type sections. This is definitely in the technical end of the progressive metal spectrum, and it´s artists like Spiral Architect, Twisted Into Form, and Watchtower (and early Sieges Even, and maybe 80s Voivod is valid too), who are references rather than the more melodic and keyboard heavy artists in the genre.

"The Towers of Avarice" is a concept album telling a dark and dramatic sci-fi story with themes of oppression, hopelessness, revolt, and a selfless protagonist hero (a sort of sci-fi/on another planet take on Fritz Lang´s "Metropolis"). The sometimes alien nature of the music and the sci-fi concept story are in perfect symbiosis, and when the lyrics are performed by a world class vocalist like Rosvold, who is not only a great storyteller, but also has a strong and distinct sounding voice, and who is able to sing both melodic, amd more raw and aggressive type of vocals (and some great harmony/choir vocals too), all ends meet and the final product is a high quality technical/progressive metal album.

The tracklist should also be mentioned as "The Towers of Avarice" is consciously structured to feature a couple of strategically placed dark ballad type tracks, which bring some dynamics to an otherwise very hard edged and heavy album. "The Towers of Avarice" opens with the title track, "The Subterranean", and "Stratagem", which are all dark, heavy, and technical progressive metal tracks ("Stratagem" features a very nice and subdued melodic mid-section though), but then comes "Reflections" which is a dark ballad which features a simple non-distorted electric guitar strumming simple notes and chords, while Rosvold sings his paatos filled and melancholic vocals on top. The chorus features some keyboard backing, but that´s about it, and it´s a beautiful song. Then straight into the 15:47 minutes long "Demise and Vestige", which is another brillant technical/progressive metal track. It´s a dynamic track showing both the softer more melodic side of the band´s sound, but also the darker heavy and ultra technical side. "The Towers of Avarice" concludes with another dark ballad type piano/keyboard/vocal driven track in "The Ghosts of Dawn". It´s a dramatic end to the album, featuring a fantastic vocal performance by Rosvold.

"The Towers of Avarice" features a dark, raw, and heavy sounding production, and it´s just another high quality feature to add to the creative songwriting and the jaw-dropping musicianship. It´s not an album that´ll neccesarily click with every progressive metal listener upon initial listen. The sound is pretty unique, and the challenging song structures and sometimes odd chromatic guitar/bass runs are sure to scare off those who crave heavy doses of melody and sing-along choruses in their music, but for those up for a musical challenge and a darker, more raw, and heavy technical take on progressive metal "The Towers of Avarice" is a mandatory listen. A 5 star (100%) rating is deserved.

ZERO HOUR Zero Hour

Album · 1999 · Progressive Metal
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UMUR
"Zero Hour" is the eponymously titled debut full-length studio album (sometimes referred to as an EP) by US, California based progressive metal act Zero Hour. The album was originally independently released in 1999 but saw a 2003 re-release through Sensory Records. The 2003 reissue is titled "Metamorphosis", named after the epic suite track of the same name occupying the latter half of the release. The reissue features four additional tracks, which aren´t featured on the 1999 original version of the release.

If you are familiar with Zero Hour´s 1994 eponymously titled demo, much have happened since that release. Guitarist Sean Kruithoff has left, and Jasun Tipton has taken over all guitar duties. Keyboard player Matt Guillory has been added to the lineup, and original lead vocalist Luis A. Ortiz has been replaced by Erik Rosvold. Stylistically Zero Hour have also made major changes to the original melodic heavy metal sound (with progressive metal leanings) towards a technical/progressive metal sound. The addition of a permanent keyboard player to the lineup can´t help but bring Dream Theater associations, but although that influence can´t be denied, Zero Hour have original ideas too that they successfully bring to the table and incorporate. Rosvold is for example a very powerful and quite unconventional progressive metal vocalist. The only singer I can think of who has a voice that is similar is Devin Townsend, and that´s definitely not the worst singer to be compared to. Zero Hour also have a rather distinct sounding riffing style (lots of fast note riffs and time-signature changes), which is a bit unusual and often pretty hard edged compared to other contemporary progressive metal artists.

The keyboards are omnipresent and dominates the soundscape along with the vocals, but the heavy (and faster) odd-metered riffs and technical drumming and bass playing also have an audible place in the mix. The sound production is not the most well sounding out there, but it´s decent enough and don´t ruin the music or anything like that. It could just have been a little better balanced. The original version of the album features three individual tracks and the 17:05 minutes long "Metamorphosis" suite, which is divided into five sub-tracks. All tracks feature intriguing melodies, powerful and challenging instrumental work, and Rosvold´s strong voice and passionate performance in front. While especially the keyboards are a little too generic and predictable if you´re familiar with Dream Theater-type progressive metal, this is still a high quality progressive metal album showing great promise. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

ZERO HOUR Zero Hour

Demo · 1994 · Progressive Metal
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UMUR
"Zero Hour" is the first (and only) eponymously titled demo by US, California based progressive metal act Zero Hour. The demo was self-released in June 1994. Zero Hour formed in 1993 and on this release is a five-piece consisting of Luis A. Ortiz (vocals), Jasun Tipton (guitars, Keyboards), Sean Kruithoff (guitars), Troy Tipton (bass), and Mike Guy (drums). It took Zero Hour five years before they were able to release their debut full-length studio album in 1999 (also an eponymously titled affair).

I´m not sure if the long time between this demo and the debut album was due to trouble finding a label willing to sign and release Zero Hour´s music, but the fact is that there isn´t much on this demo which would probably attract the contemporary labels looking for new progressive metal talents to sign (...and they were looking in those days). The playing is pretty decent enough and Ortiz has a pleasant enough voice and delivery too for this type of music, but the material is just a bit unremarkable and lacks memorable moments and melodies. Zero Hour predominantly keep things relatively simple and although there are some challenging instrumental playing on the demo, those moments are few and far between. The music is generally more vocal melody oriented, and much of the instrumental part of the music is made to support the vocals and in some cases melodic heavy metal is a more valid label than progressive metal.

The demo features a decent sound production, although the sound is a bit on the thin side and the guitars lack some punch. On the positive side all instruments and vocals are clearly audible in the mix (including the bass). Upon conclusion it´s not the most impressive progressive metal demo, but there is promise here and a 2.5 - 3 star (55%) rating is warranted.

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