Year of Release: 2001
Catalog Number: SR3011
Total Time: 45:22:00
It was back in 1998 when the California based band called Zero Hour made their debut with a self-titled release that managed to raise eyebrows around the progressive metal community. No need here to dwell on their previous achievements since Zero Hour is setting a new standard with their new presentation The Towers Of Avarice.
This is a conceptual album set in a futuristic world where the citizens have become slaves to their progress. One man (the Industrialist) created a working society, driven to build the "Towers Of Avarice," a human life-consuming source of heat and light, the slaves believe they depend upon. There is one exception, a man ("The Subterranean") living beneath the city who is about to start a one man war to free the people from this fraud. Of course, there is a lot more going on but the limited space here doesn't allow for deeper dwellings.
The lineup of Zero Hour has not changed in quite some years and this stability shows in the way the band translates and executes this story. The music is very technical and progressive but also very heavy, dark and gloomy. Vocalist Erik Rosvold wrote all the lyrics and plays keyboards, but I should mention here the keys are not as present as on their debut release. Erik's vocals are heavy and aggressive but also dramatic in the parts where called for and have some resemblance to Andy Deris' voice on the heavier, darker Helloween numbers ("The Dark Ride"). Mike Guy is playing some very technical and precise drums and the successful songwriting combination of the two brothers, Jasun Tipton (guitar, some keyboards) and Troy Tipton (bass) has churned out once again, some brilliant songs. The guitars are extremely raw, aggressive and remind often of the latest Nevermore release in sound and riffing style, but the music is totally technical without self-indulgent playing. The whole album sounds great, especially the airy and three-dimensional drum-sound, as crafted and produced by Dino Alden who also took producer's credits on their first release. The CD features some terrific artwork, created by Travis Smith whose talent is shown throughout the CD booklet, not only on the front cover.
The Towers Of Avarice sets itself apart from the current flood of bands and releases by being absolutely original and not another Dream Theater/Queensryche clone. One can only wish for more releases of such quality and maturity to come this way, but hey, there are still 6 months left before the end of year poll. Highly Recommended!
[This review originally appeared November 2002 at the ProgPower Online review site -ed.]
The Towers Of Avarice (7:52) / The Subterranean (4:11) / Stratagem (8:06) / Reflections (3:56) / Demise And Vestige (15:47) / The Ghosts Of Dawn (5:30)
Jasun Tipton - guitar, keyboards
Mike Guy - drums
Troy Tipton - bass
Erik Rosvold - vocals, keyboards
Zero Hour (199?)
The Towers Of Avarice (2001)
Metamorphosis (2003) (reissue of s/t debut)
A Fragile Mind (2005)
Genre: Progressive-Power Metal