posted on 5/2008 By:
Zero Hour has returned to deliver their 5th endeavor of insanely dense progressive metal, and it's a real titan, folks...
Simply put, Dark Deceiver is gonna char your fuckin' bones to cinder. I honestly don't recall the last time I heard a progressive metal album as dense, dark and downright menacing as this killer slab right here. Perhaps never, quite honestly. 2006's Specs of Pictures Burnt Beyond found the band steering their sights in this general direction, but this album handily eclipses that record's contentiousness with nine tracks primarily bent on punishment through piles of machine-gunned riffing, jackhammered rhythms and loads-and-loads-and-loads of eargasmic bass and guitar break-outs that truly flex the Tipton brothers' technical prowess. Nearly every tune flashes moments of what I can only think to call a "Meshuggah-esque" mechanical heaviness, but the core is still undoubtedly cast from the Alder-era Fates Warning die that stamped out No Exit 20-years ago.
And when I say this album's dense, I mean it's Dark Matter dense, people: of the ilk that could very well cause your room to implode after you hit the ol' play button the first time around. I'd also recommend you not attempt to digest this sucker from start to finish during your inaugural spin(s). Such folly would be akin to eating an entire loaf of German dark rye bread in one sitting: it's tasty, but it's gonna leave you groaning on the floor, completely immobile. Instead, let your brain dissect a couple tunes here and there just to help get the gray-matter familiar with the formula, then consume the entire work for maximum enjoyment. In my case, I quickly found this record to be nearly irresistible once the complex tendrils eventually wrapped around my brainstem.
Of course Dark Deceiver isn't only about intensity (and let me just interject the following: it ain't just the Tipton brothers delivering the blows here, friends. Mike Guy, drummer since day one, also applies a dexterous fierceness on this record...and quite keenly, I might add). The album's savagery is nicely tempered through ample measures of more mellow passages that do a wonderful job at spotlighting the vocals of Chris Salinas. His talents were debuted on the band's previous record, but this time around he sounds even more comfortable, and he gets ample opportunity to show off his notably wide range during the epic 12-minute "Inner Spirit", the more relaxed "Resurrection" and throughout "The Temple Within." For reference sake, Salinas is undoubtedly a student from the Alder/Tate School of Vocalists, and I can assure you he graduated at the very top of his class. I'd say he's one of the better progressive metal vocalists currently in the business.
I tip my hat to the saintly Mrs. Tipton -- she must have endured a great deal of pain when she birthed young Jasun and Troy from Zero Hour. Not only are these dudes identical twins, but I can also imagine they shot directly outta the womb with guitar and bass firmly in tow, based on their brain-bending musical faculties. And they've surrounded themselves with two other players that round out the Zero Hour machine perfectly. In other words, all the necessary pieces to the puzzle are in place, and Dark Deceiver is exactly the kind of album to be expected as a result of this: pure excellence. Progressive metal album of the year? Quite possibly.
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Specs of Pictures Burnt Beyond
10/10/2006 Zero Hour
A Fragile Mind
11/8/2005 Zero Hour