Fans of such prog-rock/metal bands as Rush and Spock’s Beard are likely to get excited about Somnambulist. Actually, this band sounds like a radio-friendly Voivod if you an imagine that, or perhaps a harder version of Steely Dan in a serious mood. Heck, one might even be tempted to lump them into a category with the Police; that is, their less commercial stuff. So, as you can imagine, these guys are consummate musicians. None of this is surprising since the band is on the Laser’s Edge label. That reminds me, Somnambulist’s label mates, Ark, would be another band to compare them with. So if you are into cerebral, odd-tempo, slightly eccentric prog-rock/metal, and if any of the other bands mentioned above appeal to you, then I can’t imagine you not appreciating this one.
“Tower of Avarice” (6 tracks. 45:27).
You know you are in for something complex when a CD with only 6 tracks lasts for three-quarters of an hour! And of course, Sensory has a reputation for complex Metal bands (Spiral Architect, Ark, etc.). So what do Zero Hour bring to the world of Metal? Well, first of all, as expected, they bring a complex and mathematically challenging approach to riffing. Guitarist Jasun Tipton, bassist Troy Tipton, and drummer Mike Guy have this Alex Lifeson, Geddy Lee, Neal Peart thing going on. Believe me, no one will be dancing to this syncopated slab of chunky Progressive Metal. The instrumental part of “Stratagem”, for instance, would serve as a great soundtrack for a war movie with its machine gun approach to riffing. In contrast to all this are Erik Rosvold’s vocals which remind one of Geoff Tate and the like. His voice rises above the music to play counterpoint. With Zero Hour, like Rush, one gets four or five distinct sounds—guitars, keyboards, drums, bass, vocals—which all work together though they sound like they are working against each other. It works quite well, but I doubt the average Marilyn Moron fan will be able to comprehend it.
On a peripheral issue: the promo sheet talks about the originality of the lyrics. I disagree. It’s the same old skeptical, postmodern type of deconstructing agnosticism typical of this genre. It could be that the lyrics were inspired by some existential, Nietzschian, nihilistic philosophy, or it could just be a case of these guys writing to their audience. Whatever the case, the music rocks!