Let’s just get right to the point. Dark Deceiver by Zero Hour is some crazy stuff.
And for some reason, in 2008, I was really, really in the mood for crazy. I was familiar with some of the band’s previous work. Their opus Specs of Pictures Burnt Beyond was an album I had tried to enjoy given the praise it had received in the progressive online media. Yet true enjoyment of that album had eluded me for a couple of years (though it now boasts two of my all-time favorite songs). Something about Specs just left me feeling a little cold.
Enter Dark Deceiver, the fifth and final album from Zero Hour. Here was an album that was darker, heavier, faster, and really more all over the place than the band’s previous work. Zero Hour played a style of technically challenging progressive metal. Powerful vocals, thundering and stunning bass work, with drumming to match, and some really great fretwork.
Dark Deceiver took all of that and turned it up to 11. The bass playing here is just insane, and the drumming keeps up. Chris Salinas has a powerful voice that is a bit of a mix of Geoff Tate (he’s a douche these days, but man that guy had an amazing voice), Warrel Dane (RIP), and even some glimpses of Ray Alder, while always still sounding like his own singer. He demonstrates a true power here, with a strong range, and the ability to punch through the technical music.
And the songs here are just top notch. They take some time to get into, honestly. Part of this is the technical nature. The time signatures vary dramatically, and some of the songs never really get into a groove. Often that will put me off, but here it works. There are moments of really beautiful and emotional music to be found amidst the aggression and technical playing, as well as some just punishingly heavy riffs.
For me though, once I started to really get into these songs, particularly some of the shorter tracks, everything else started to click into place for me. I really couldn’t stop listening to Dark Deciever, and still find myself drawn to it today. Next thing I knew, this was all I was listening to, and suddenly the band’s previous work opened up to me and I was hooked. I fell in love with their style of aggressive, progressive metal.
Sadly, Zero Hour is no longer with us, though the Tipton brothers continue to release great music (check out the two albums from Cynthesis for some more amazing, powerful, but much less technical prog). Gone though, these guys are not forgotten and I strongly recommend checking out their albums. And Dark Deceiver is a great place to jump in.