When Progressive Metal band Zero Stroke’s As The Colours Seep EP appeared in the Bucketlist review line up, I jumped at the chance to do this review. I was intrigued; Zero Stroke are from South Africa, the country in which I spent most of my childhood. I wanted to hear what was coming out of RSA these days, a chance that I don’t often have since my return to the UK. I approached the As The Colours Seep EP knowing very little about the newcomers from the city of Cape Town. When I heard what these guys had put together I thought it was very exciting indeed.
The only way I can get across the fresh sound of Zero Stroke is to mix together some of the melancholy melody of Opeth, a touch of the occasional disjointed riffage of Tool, with a little Judas Priest added.
As The Colours Seep opens with the track “The Median Cycle” that starts with a clever 70s-style keyboard intro leading into a powerful guitar attack from Chad Adam Browne. It then moves into an Opeth-style melody that puts across a relaxing lull before going into the disjointed chorus reminiscent of Tool. You then get a good mixture of really well put together melodies and a solid, impressive guitar solo. This song sets the feel for the EP and carries the band through the recording for an awesome overall sound.
All the way through the EP I would advise you to keep an ear on the rhythm section; John Yarnold shows great skill and does a lot of interesting drum fills. Check out the track “Machine” for a good example of this. On the bass, Alex Rohloff manages to really push the bass through the music all the way through the EP. Some great riffs make the bass stand out as more than a support instrument for the band.
The Judas Priest feel comes across very much in the sheer range of vocalist Michael Short, whose vocals are a big part of what make Zero Stroke stick out for me. In the track “There Were Flaws,” there are moments when he really opens up his scream, making me instantly think of Rob Halford. There are only short examples of this on the EP and I’d love to hear him use this more.
Bands like Zero Stroke are exactly why I started writing for Bucketlist – to find new bands that excite me and make me go WOW! They’ve done a great job of that. This recording is well balanced, and every member has a moment in the spotlight without sounding like they’re at war for the forefront. I know that not many bands successfully get beyond the borders of South Africa, but if As The Colours Seep is anything to go by, Zero Stroke deserve to. They are very talented and I want to hear more from them.
Written by Paul Foxon