Zhorn - Z Comes First

Year of Release: 2003
Label: Generation Records
Catalog Number: GRCD010
Format: CD
Total Time: 53:04:00

Does the band name Lanfear ring a bell? No? Ok, let me fill you in. Zhorn is the new band of ex-Lanfear singer Stefan Zoerner. Stefan released two albums with German prog metal band Lanfear titled Towers and Zero Poems. The latter got rave reviews in the media and also happens to be one of my favourite prog metal albums and featured some really innovative and interesting song writing. Since then Lanfear has moved on and just issued their new CD featuring a new singer and while they went for a more straight ahead approach for their third album, I was very eager to hear what Stefan would do next. During studio sessions with Lanfear in 1996 Stefan (lead vocals, lyrics, keyboards, composer) met Andy Horn (guitars, keyboards, vocals, composer, producer) who was to produce their debut album. They kept in touch and after Andy produced Zero Poems they decided work on new material for their own project; Zhorn was born.

Now, this will be a tough nut to break. This CD is so full of surprises and takes so many directions it's rather hard to give a complete description that serves this CD justice. Ok, like the man I am, I need to categorise and systemise. The foundation here is AOR/pomp/hard rock, but with elements of prog, modern pop and perhaps a little singer/songwriter style thrown in. This doesn't imply that each song holds these elements. Some songs take on all these elements, while some are more straightforward and stick to one genre. Although not as heavy as Lanfear, there still are definite references to Zero Poems to be traced here, both sound wise and as far as song-writing goes. It's almost impossible to find similar bands as this music is so unique and different, but if you like Saga, ACT, Lanfear, Spock's Beard, Queen, Savatage, etc., this should certainly appeal to you as well as fans of the aforementioned genres.

The music is fronted by layers of versatile keyboards and tasty, catchy guitars. Zoerner has a good mid-ranged voice, nothing spectacular, but he certainly delivers a solid performance. When it comes to song-writing, musicianship, arrangements and production, Z Comes First definitely deliver in bucket loads. Nuff said!

Out of the 11 songs on offer there are no fillers. Maybe the two last songs aren't as interesting as the others, but that's just because they spoiled us with exclusively killer tracks for the first 9 songs. Zoerner and Horn has really hit the bullseye with this CD as I have rarely heard such a successful combination of wacky song-writing and genre mixing like this where the band actually succeeds in giving the songs such a melodic and widely accessible approach. I was tempted to give this CD 5 points, but instead I landed on a strong 4 stars. Hail to these two guys for taking us on this mind bending musical journey. A must!

Similar to: Lanfear, ACT, Savatage

[This review originally appeared June 2003 at the ProgPower Online review site -ed.]

Z (5:25) / Of Swords And Kisses (4:44) / Tuned For Misery (4:07) / White Blanket (3:33) / Sitha's Dance (4:30) / The Fair Game (9:36) / Private Ghost (4:09) / Man Of 1000 Words (4:27) / What I Feel Today (4:31) / Not Enough (4:22) / A'laube D'un Soir (At The End Of The Day) (3:40)

Stefan Zoerner - vocals, keyboards
Andy Horn - guitars, keyboards, vocals

Z Comes First (1999/2003)

Genre: Melodic Rock/AOR

Origin DE

Added: March 20th 2005
Reviewer: Bjørnar Bevolden
Artist website: www.zhorn.de
Hits: 957
Language: english


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