"A Fragile Mind"


01. Intro
02. There For Me
03. Destiny Is Sorrow
04. Brain Surgery
05. Losing Control
06. Twice the Pain
07. Somnecrophobia
08. A Fragile Mind
09. Intrinsic

RATING: 7/10

One of the brighter stars in the prog-power underground returns after a too-long absence with a new vocalist and an oppressively heavy-handed approach. Right out of the box, with "There For Me", ZERO HOUR wedge themselves in amid DIGITAL RUIN or DREAM THEATER's most aggressive works, and nearly into NEVERMORE territory — melodic, yes, but with pounding bass and thunderous drumming, and a muscular guitar sound that almost seems too heavy for the music it's playing!

Fred Marshall invites comparisons to James LaBrie or Roy Khan, but his strong delivery and his utility (he apparently joined and helped get this record put together on relatively short notice after the dismissal of former singer Erik Rosvold) make his presence both essential and welcome. He also adds a bit of humanity to what can sometimes be a suffocating, impersonal wall of arbitrary time changes and tempo shifts. Given some of the lyrical themes — the "fragile mind" of the title, the physical intrusion of "Brain Surgery", and the like — it makes sense for the vocals, the most human part of the music, to almost seem to be swimming against the tide of the music, making a stand against its overpowering quality (see the chaotic midsection of "Twice the Pain" for the best example of this).

Though many of the songs on "A Fragile Mind" are shorter and more concise, "Destiny Is Sorrow" and the title cut are sprawling epics, the kind of songs made to be gleefully dissected by message board geeks for the next decade, feasts of prog-metal prowess with melody and complexity to spare. While some fans of the more melodic side of things may be put off by the abrasive, manic edge of tracks like "Brain Surgery", its avalanche of propulsive rhythms is hard to resist.

ZERO HOUR will hold zero interest for anyone not already immersed in the prog/power world — this isn't exactly a "gateway drug" into this rarefied sub-sub-genre. But for those already deep in its clutches, it'll be an absolute — Marshall should receive a warm welcome to the community, and "A Fragile Mind" will go down as one of 2005's elite prog-metal efforts.


To comment on a BLABBERMOUTH.NET story or review, you must be logged in to an active personal account on Facebook. Once you're logged in, you will be able to comment. User comments or postings do not reflect the viewpoint of BLABBERMOUTH.NET and BLABBERMOUTH.NET does not endorse, or guarantee the accuracy of, any user comment. To report spam or any abusive, obscene, defamatory, racist, homophobic or threatening comments, or anything that may violate any applicable laws, use the "Report to Facebook" and "Mark as spam" links that appear next to the comments themselves. To do so, click the downward arrow on the top-right corner of the Facebook comment (the arrow is invisible until you roll over it) and select the appropriate action. You can also send an e-mail to blabbermouthinbox(@) with pertinent details. BLABBERMOUTH.NET reserves the right to "hide" comments that may be considered offensive, illegal or inappropriate and to "ban" users that violate the site's Terms Of Service. Hidden comments will still appear to the user and to the user's Facebook friends. If a new comment is published from a "banned" user or contains a blacklisted word, this comment will automatically have limited visibility (the "banned" user's comments will only be visible to the user and the user's Facebook friends).