Zero Mentality

Black Rock

Written by: PP on 27/11/2009 20:01:45

My review plate has seen a lot of hardcore albums pass by lately, and only few of them have passed by unharmed. There's only so much generic hardcore one can take over a given time period, so luckily Germany's Zero Mentality have produced a solid enough third album to avoid the metaphorical fork and knife slaughter that was otherwise waiting for them based on a quick Myspace listen. Don't judge a book by the cover, they say, and this certainly holds true for "Black Rock", a hardcore album that dares to push the envelope and experiment outside the box by integrating several different tones and styles to a sound that's still hardcore at root.

The listener's interest should immediately be aroused by the opening track of the record, "Black Rock", which starts out with unusual "spat-out" vocals dwelling somewhere between clean and scream, before developing into a classic The Misfits styled woo-hoo gang shout echo. It quickly becomes clear that even though Zero Mentality too have a tendency to resort into one chord hardcore chugging every now and then (see "Planet Der Affen", for instance, featuring Koldborn vocalist Lars on growls), they aren't afraid to bring in significant rock influence as well nor to occasionally drop by the metalcore territory to borrow some blinding guitars. Consider for instance "Electric Lips", the catchiest track on the record, which sounds like the lost offspring between an unholy union of Eighteen Visions and Avenged Sevenfold. Before you run away screaming, however, it should be noted that producer Jacob Bredahl has really pulled out the best of such a sound, and it shouldn't be long before you notice bobbing along to the song, perhaps even humming the melody.

But where the band really pushes the hardcore envelope is on "Devils Charity". A female backing choir supports Ben's clean vocals in a great contrast that brings to mind The Chariot's fantastic "And Shot Each Other". I don't think I've heard such a technique on a hardcore album before, so props to Zero Mentality for daring to experiment like that. The vocal department in general is a pleasure compared to their peers, as the band variates between an in-your-face growl, raw clean vox, and the typical hardcore yell with some extra spoken-word passages and even female vocals. You don't have a chance to feel like Zero Mentality sound monotonous at any point.

While most tracks are rock oriented hardcore tracks, occasionally Zero Mentality explore dropping the hardcore element altogether, such as on "Fragile Heart", where they are a straight forward rock band more than anything else. Danish readers should actually find the song's transition quite interesting around three minutes in, as the vocal dynamic sounds exceptionally similar to our local heroes Trusted Few. It's this kind of constant variation, this type of ability to stretch their sound beyond the realms of hardcore that makes Zero Mentality such an interesting listen - even if they don't necessarily have many tracks that'll blow you away. Perhaps that's why they've toured or played festivals with bands as different as Agnostic Front, Napalm Death, Converge, koRn and even Slayer.

Download: Electric Lips, Devils Charity, Black Rock
For the fans of: Eighteen Visions, Clawfinger, The Misfits
Listen: Myspace

Release date 09.10.2009
Let It Burn Records

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