There’s something immediately American about Zero Down. The instantly familiar style of the artwork (done by Ed Repka of Death/Megadeth etc fame) aside, the band’s look, style and sound really does seem very Stateside. And Zero Down ARE American (luckily for me as my opening remarks would have looked rather stupid…), but that said there is plenty of the NWOBHM in there too, though blended together in such a true, faithful style that again, probably nowadays tends to be American.
Zero Down have an overall Heavy Metal sound that bands like Omen, Liege Lord and Exciter (yes I know they were Canadian…) captured, along with some Speed Metal elements akin to Wrathchild America, Helstar or maybe even Wargasm (especially on ‘Devil’s Thorn’), plus also a bit of pre-Matt Barlow Iced Earth. The other side to the band is a generous smattering of Judas Priest, Raven, Satan and Tank…with a bit of classic Iron Maiden twin lead guitar thrown in for good measure. Vocally the style is that mid-range with occasional high screams favoured by many mid to late 80’s Speed/Thrash acts as well as most widely recognizable by Udo (check out ‘Steve McQueen’ for instance)…with just occasionally a bit of Pepper Keenan’s groove in the mid range.
Now OK, Zero Down have never won any originality awards in the past and many of the straight-ahead, lyrically undemanding Heavy Metal tunes on offer here could probably benefit from some tempo increases at times (like they nail to good effect on the very Raven/Motorhead/Exciter style ‘Phantom Host’ or parts of ‘2 Tonne Hammer’ around it’s LA Guns style chorus), or at least more variations within each individual track, but I concede that if the band quicken things up too much they start treading on nu-thrash toes and that isn’t what Zero Down are about. There’s some good riffs, great lead-work and solid drumming, but somehow the band are still lacking that little bit extra of a band like, say, Wolf for example.
The talent is there and with some great ideas scattered around “No Limit To The Evil”, there is no denying that the band have plenty of appeal, they just seem to be in need of maybe one killer song to keep the listener coming back. Without it there is a tendency for the album as a whole to come across as just another competent Metal band in a very crowded marketplace, which is a hard thing to hear when you have sunk your heart and soul into a record, and it’s just my opinion. And Zero Down have to be applauded for their commitment, dedication and loyalty to Heavy Metal in it’s purest, initial form – long may they continue.
(6/10 Andy Barker)