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domenica 1 febbraio 2015

Zero Down - No Limit to the Evil

#FOR FAN OF: Heavy/Thrash
With four full-length albums under their belt since 2005, you'd think Seattle metallers Zero Down would be on our radars a little more often. But the first few tracks of their brand new effort 'No Limit to the Evil' reveals the issue regarding their popularity... The excellent cover art, by classic metal artist Ed Repka, would imply that this disc would contain 40 minutes of nu-thrash madness. This only heightens the disappointment felt upon first listen. This is heavy metal done pure and simple. For that, I commend them - I respect any band who eliminate unnecessary bells and whistles in order to focus their sound more directly. Unfortunately, Zero Down sound like they really could do with some more bells and whistles to grab the attention of those who have been bored senseless by song after song of generic, mid-tempo stomping. Okay, firstly, the pros: The production on the stringed instruments is an absolute pleasure - a nice rounded bass sound provides ample support for a simple, mellow guitar tone. The drums are definitely far too low in the mix, and the vocals...well, we'll get to them later. The gang-vocals employed by the rest of the band are nothing if not fun, and definitely enliven the blander parts of songs like "Suicide Girl" and "Devil's Thorn". The riffs, whilst mind-numbingly simple, at least contain enough energy to awaken that primal feeling which plagues most metalheads, forcing the listener to rhythmically nod in respect (opening riff to "Steve McQueen" especially). The cons? Hmm. 'Generic' really is the key word here. You are hearing nothing that hasn't already been done infinitely better by the likes of Saxon or Accept or...every NWoBHM band ever. 'No Limit to the Evil' is a collection of meandering, mid-tempo rockers which rarely turn the volume up past 6 or 7. It's not awful! But it's so average, it hurts. Would it really have killed them to quicken the pace a little? Or even slow it down further? Variety is the spice of life, and this about as spicy as cream cheese. Now then, Mark Hawkinson's vocals... It appears that 70% of the time he is perfectly capable, tuneful, and in control. This is majorly let down by those times where he attempts falsetto, and just crosses the border into 'Embarrassment-land'. His lyrics are, to put it bluntly, stupid: "Blah blah blah BEER. Blah blah blah METAL. Blah blah blah WOMEN." Yawn. If you really feel you should persevere with this band - then look into their earlier releases. They are at least packed with far more variety than "No Limit to the Evil". There definitely are highlights, such as the energetic "Phantom Host" and the brilliantly-titled "Two Ton Hammer" - but they are disappointingly eclipsed by the carnival of boredom that surrounds them. Better luck next time, chaps. (Larry Best)

(Minotauro Records - 2014)
Score: 40