"Zero To Rage"

By Dr. Abner Mality

Stormzone are a rising force in traditional heavy metal and with "Zero To Rage" they show they have almost too much metal heart for the rest of us mortals to handle. This is an immense 70 minute slab of extremely melodic and thoroughly British heavy metal.

I would not quite lump these guys together with NWOBHM revival bands. There seems to be something a bit fresher and more modern going on here than just an attempt to revive glories of the past. Make no mistake, this band is rooted in acts like Saxon, Thin Lizzy, Judas Priest, Angelwitch and more, but when you listen to them, outright resemblances are not obvious. There's also a very strong strand of AOR/melodic rock melody in the vocals of Harv Harbinson...poppy is overstating it, but fans that love singers like Jeff Scott-Soto and D.C. Cooper will enjoy his strong singing. Harv doesn't have the kind of voice that blows you away at first, but when you're done listening to "Zero To Rage", you suddenly realize you've heard a great performance. There's a lot of multi-tracked vocal harmony from Stormzone as well as twin-harmony guitar work ala Thin Lizzy, but this record rocks hard with a lot of crunchy metal and no ballads in sight.

Where I feel Stormzone loses some points is that they tend to overdo things. This album is just too damn long and a couple of songs at least should have been snipped to bring it to under an hour. Some of the tracks themselves also tend to overstay their welcome, like the title track and "Empire of Fear". The enthusiasm of Stormzone is infectious, but some tightening up and pruning would result in a more direct and focused record. That being said, there are a lot of strong tracks here, with "Jester's Laughter", "Hail the Brave" and the excellent "Last Man Fighting" standing out. These cuts all feature some of the most smoking traditional metal leads I've heard this year...guitarists Steve Moore and Keith Harris do outstanding work.

"Zero To Rage" is not perfect but it is really promising and I could see Stormzone becoming a force in "true" heavy metal.