NULL’O’ZERO – Instructions To Dominate

I don’t think I have ever heard a Greek Metal band before. At least not a whole album by one. Yes, I know that Gus G (Ozzy Osbourne, Firewind) is from Greece and yes, I have heard his solo albums but those albums includes members from lots different countries. So this is my first one as Null’O’Zero are a Greek band. Formed in Athens in 2012, the band managed to get some live gigs and after they won a Metal contest called “Band On The Stage”, that contained no less than 42 bands, the band got signed and released an E.P. called “Blood Red Sky” with which they toured before it was time to record their debut full-length album. Released in 2015, The Enemy Within got some great reviews but it failed to set the world on fire. For influences, the band mentions bands such as Megadeth, Symphony X, Slayer, Slipknot, Disturbed, Metallica, Carcass and Machine Head which gives you a clue what kind of music we can expect here – technical, aggressive but also melodic Metal with a contemporary twist. So with a new album recently released, the band hopes that this is the album that’s gonna take them to the next level.

The title track – and latest single/video – opens the album on a slow and quite soft note with a Steve Harris (Iron Maiden) like bass line. But the song blasts away and turns heavy right away, robust, aggressive and kicking with a wall of guitars and Geo Sinner’s substantial voice. This is Metal all the way, but they haven’t forgotten the importance of melodies and melodies we get. The tune is actually quite catchy. I had absolutely no clue what to expect here so this first tune was a nice surprise as I found the tune great! First single “The Last One” follows and it’s a punchy, hard and aggressive one. It holds a tough rhythm, a fat Metal groove and a refrain that catches on immediately. It’s not a coincidence that this song was chosen as the first single. It also reminds me some of Symphony X which can never be a bad thing.

“My Last Disguise” comes in a slower pace, quite dark and shit-heavy with a big punch and a fist-in-the-air stomping groove. there’s also an instrumental section that makes the tune even more dynamic. It’s a mean number but still melodic with a catchy main melody – very, very good. “Imprisoned In The Dark” is a raging, fast Metal tune with smattering drums, fast riffing, heaviness all the way through that holds a dark and sinister mode. Even here the Symphony X influences shines through a bit but the twin guitars takes them into Iron Maiden territory. It’s a bouncy rocker and the vocal melody is awesome. Fact is, everything about this song is awesome! “Decline The Legacy” is another fast rune but it also brings on a damn fine groove. With the risk of sounding humdrum here, I must mention Symphony X here as well but Iron Maiden pops up in my head as well. The chorus is very effective and hits like a ton of bricks. Great stuff, this.

“Face Down The World” is hard, rough and aggressive and holds a ball-busting beat – it’s a song clearly here to kick your ass. But at the same time it holds some very melodic guitar melodies and a very memorable main melody and that catchiness contrasts brilliantly to the aggression and the angst-laden vocals which brings up the dynamics even more. Very good. “Better Off Dead” is dark and evil, contains razor-harp guitars but also a stomping and groovy Metal rhythm. It’s a fat and hard-hitting Metal number, here to punch you in the face – and I like it a lot. “Until The End Of Time” is a Heavy Metal power ballad that starts with a soft Maiden-esque intro but turns heavy and rough pretty fast. It’s still a slow tune and never loses its balladry. It also contains a soft piano and string break which builds up the dynamics. A very memorable and emotional tune and these guys totally nails it. Ballads don’t have to be cheesy, folks!

The Melodic Metal number “Trapped In A Maze” follows and it is by far the most accessible and radio-friendly tune on the album, if you can call a song like this that. It’s still a heavy tune but it comes with a more Hard Rock meets Metal vibe, it’s groovy and rhythmic and very catchy. Fact is, the chorus is actually a bit poppy, but it’s not sugary or cheesy. I love the fact that they have the guts to include a song like this as it brings out another side of the band. I think the tune is awesome. The next single maybe? They close the album with “Hate”, a heavy, fast and even thrashy seven minute bone crusher – a real punch in the gut. In the middle of the fury, a mid-paced, groove-laden middle-break unpredictably comes in before the tune goes into mayhem again. The song’s outro is even more unpredictable as it is pretty soft and holds just an atmospheric acoustic guitar. Way to go, guys!

Wow! I must say that this album came as a big surprise as it’s pretty rare that I stumble on new Metal bands nowadays that roughs me up like Null’O’Zero have done with this record. I love the fact that they have recorded an aggressive, ballsy and rough Metal album but aren’t afraid to bring in catchy melodies and shitloads of hooks everywhere. Yes, sometimes they wear their influences – especially Symphony X – on their sleeves, but we’re not talking cloning here. And no, it’s not like Null’O’Zero has invented a new genre here, this is plain Metal, but that’s irrelevant in this case because the songs are all so damn good. The production is on the bombastic side, thick and brutal and at times it feels like you’re being ran over by a freight-train but you’re banging your head with a smile while it happens, a real sonic boom. Highly recommended to every Metal fan out there.

8/10

Tracklist:

1. Instructions To Dominate
2. The Last One
3. My Last Disguise
4. Imprisoned In The Dark
5. Decline The Legacy
6. Face Down The World
7. Better Off Dead
8. Until The End Of Life
9. Trapped In A Maze
10. Hate

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