Saturday, March 4, 2017

ZENO-Zeno (1986)


The last hard rock band I listened to whose name began with the letter 'Z' was the German group called ZARATHUSTRA, or just ZARA for short; how coincidental, then, that this latest one to entertain my ears also hails from Germany. Following the recommendation of a fellow 80's rock lover, I turned my attention to ZENO and their self-titled debut, as I continued on my joyride to acquaint my ears with something unexplored while reliving the hair band sounds of my favorite decade. 60+ minutes of magnificent metal to rock my Saturday night—that's what I can say about this sixteen-track deep album in one bold statement! When the jams kicked off with "Eastern Sun", I was already overly impressed and felt so much at home with the rollicking and wild yet versatile vocals of the band's standout lead singer. It wasn't long before I found my first real keeper: "A Little More Love"; it's the first place where his high and lofty, hollering voice turn a simple song (here, he sings about wanting something extra from the woman) into a showstopping performance. Then right after that, I found my next keeper: "Love Will Live". After the stilled, almost haunting choir voices heard during the opening instrumental, I had a feeling would build up to the massive power ballad that it eventually becomes, flying on the wings of the unified and sing-along-style chorus! Those lofty vocals become high and mighty a second time in middle part of the song, which turns it into quite the epic adventure! The producers did right to have the bonus 'Earlier Version' included as the absolute last song on this 16-track version because, really, it is saving the best for last! But not to take anything away from the other stellar performances before that..... "Signs On The Sky" is a classic 80's upbeat rockin' punch with a terrific hook (I like how the wild rocker in him changes up to that high and lofty voice on the fly) as is "Far Away" and "Sent By Heaven". I occasionally get so caught up in the awesome sound on these rock jams that whatever message is being projected through the lyrics is sometimes lost the first time around. Such was the case on "Circles Of A Dawn", where he sings passionately about angels crying and using that as a metaphor to the light in her eye, or something to that effect. Though the part of the song that really got my attention was the unified backup singers chiming in with the ultra-catchy Christmas carol-like 'bom-bom-bom-bom-bom, bom bom' in the midway and closing movements, which had me thinking about the holiday classic, "Little Drummer Boy". Another highlight that must be mentioned from this album's upbeat side: "Emergency". Knew it would be a great listen the moment the synthesized, stadium crowd-pleaser of a majestic intro sparked my ears (reminding me of the VAN HALEN hit, "Jump"), but what gave me confirmation is the excellent hook, represented by the words of ' girl, can't you see, time is running out '. When you go on to listen to a song twice back-to-back before hearing the remaining songs on the album, you know a new song has gotten a hold of you! Then complementing the epic power ballad that "Love Will Live" is the equally epic ballad, "Don't Tell The Wind". A bit of a different arrangement with the light guitar acoustic and overall warming, ambient intro, but the true rock spirit sweeps in later and takes the song by storm. The final track on original versions of this band's self-titled debut appears to have been the Far Eastern-inspired instrumental snippet called "Sunset"; as the eleventh track here, it's just one more thing that adds some zing to this already zesty ZENO spectacle::

1. Easter Sun
2. A Little More Love
3. Love Will Live
4. Signs On The Sky
5. Far Away
6. Emergency
7. Don't Tell The Wind
8. Heart On The Wing
9. Circles Of Dawn
10. Sent By Heaven
11. Sunset
12. Don't Count Me Out
13. Signs Of The Sky [Earlier Version]
14. Far Away [Earlier Version]
15. Don't Tell The Wind [Earlier Version]
16. Love Will Live [Earlier Version]

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