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Zero Hour – Specs of Pictures Burnt Beyond

Label: The Lasers Edge
Format: CD
Released: 2006
Reviewed By: Rich Catino

Zero Hour is lead by the talents of twin bothers Jasun and Trot Tipton on guitar and bass respectively. They started the band in 1993 based out of San Francisco California creating a form a jazz fusion based progressive metal. The jazz fusion can be found in both the bass and guitar lines and the prog is a part to almost every arrangement. Vocals are cleanly sung very reminiscent at times of Michael Kiske (former singer for Helloween) on ‘The Falcon’s Cry’ and Ray Alder (Fates Warning) on ‘Face the Fear’.


While many could compare just about every prog based metal band to Dream Theater, and yes there are hints of that in Zero Hour, the musical compositions here are more improvised in structure and free form. Evident as bass, guitar, and drums lines don’t always follow the same pattern as each go off into their own directions several times within a song. Like I said its more of a jazz/fusion base. With heavy and clean guitar driven plateaus, changes in drum beats and tempos lead by melodic vocals, "Specs of Pictures Beyond" paints a picture like the discs cover and keeps this listener interested throughout. Like listening to a book on audio.

Now the music is not always so improvisational as the Tipton brothers do consciously follow linear musical patterns to keep songs grounded and focused onto one idea. For example take simple arrangements like the Queensrycheish instrumental ‘Embrace’ or ‘I Am Here’ keep to a basic clean guitar and vocal arrangement and keep the album from sounding like one big jam session.

I think Zero Hour are making a conscious effort to stay original within the progressive world and are not hear just to rip off their influences or peers.

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