Zero Hour - _Dark Deceiver_
(Sensory Records, 2008)
by: Jackie Smit (
Long the preserve of flannel-wearing nerds whose idea of a wild night is almost wholly confined to playing "Dungeons and Dragons" by candlelight, prog has quietly been shedding its socially awkward skin over the last few years. Spearheaded by Mastodon and helped on in no small part by names like Canvas Solaris and Zero Hour, the new wave of prog picks up where bands like Cynic left off and has evolved the craft into a consistently engaging slew of releases. Among these, _Dark Deceiver_ is surely a major highlight.Shifting its focus largely toward the heavy aspects that Zero Hero hinted at on its already promising predecessor, the record melds together textured brutality that's easily on a par with Strapping Young Lad or Meshuggah, with a King Crimson-like flair for non-linear song structures and experimentation. Adding extra spice to an already attracive concoction is the fact that Jasun Tipton is one hell of a guitar player; his lightning-fast shredding on the epic "Inner Spirit" is downright scary, while on "Lies" he exhibits -- in collusion with a very competent rhythm section -- an appreciation for fat, chunky grooves that isn't a million miles away from Dimebag Darrel.Make no mistake, _Dark Deceiver_ isn't an easy album to get into by any means. Its densely layered complexity means that you'll almost certainly be discovering new bits a year from now, and you certainly won't throw this on the tray at your next kegger. But then again, that's not a bad thing at all.
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