I Am Zero – Dark Sky


Artist

Album

Dark Sky

Label

UNFD

Year

2015

For Fans Of

Hacktivist, In Hearts Wake, The One Hundred, Saviour

Summary

This is metalcore done right, and fuck; it’s rarely done this well.

Rating

90 / 100

When a band breaks up, most of the time the members just fuck off to all corners and walks of life. Some embrace religion, others go behind the scenes, and some just go into retail and real estate, while some, you know, die. But ultimately, you rarely hear from them unless Soundcloud exclusive solo projects are underway or when the occasional reunion is in talks. However, the love of playing music and refusing the creative juices to bubble up inside without any outlet is a soul-crushing experience on par with working full time at a supermarket or trying to finish Dark Souls on your first run through.

So, when Perth’s Saviour called it quits last year (the bastards!), half the band just disappeared. While guitarist Lyndsay Antica continued to study and hail the all-mighty chugg with Confession, its vocalist Bryant Best who seems to be making the most noise now. In his downtime between having no mic to scream into, and working on Bright & Grey, he helped form I Am Zero with Temporal guitarist Urvin Seeburuth and bassist/singer Michael Barr, along with Storm The Shores drummer Michael Matta to fill out one interesting line-up on paper… and, the doors have well and truly been blown off with debut EP, ‘Dark Sky’.

I Am Zero are not original, but damn do they feel fresh, in a young Will Smith kind of way. Yet they have an undeniable familiarity to them. You’ve got the typical and familiar metalcore sound of other UNFD bands like In Hearts Wake with the tight, heavy breakdowns and melodic hooks and giant choruses. You’ve got an EP that rocks the nu-metal feel like it’s 2001 but keeps a modern aesthetic with the sound of bands like Hacktivist and The One Hundred. It’s also got strong hip-hop influence of fellow locals like Hellions and of course, it echoes the sounds of Saviour, something that may always be prevalent throughout the band’s lifespan.

Musically, Best’s screams, spoken word and his surprisingly solid rapping all steal the show. Seriously, the dude’s got the perfect voice for this music and it is instantly recognisable. On top of that, you’ve got some solid cleans courtesy of Barr, and they aren’t over-produced nor are they under mixed by any means. They just feel real and natural without too much processing going on. Furthermore, some kudos must go to engineer, Roland Lim, the guy who makes Make Them Suffer sound so wondrously sick. This dude is becoming the William Putney of Australia with strong-sounding products like this.

Now, while the nu-metal aspect and the strong line-up helps the band stand out, their music is a current and ever-growing trend, so they would really need that something extra, that extra bit of flavour that turns an average over-priced dish into a delicious meal that you’ll eat again and again, right? Right! That something extra for I Am Zero is actually the simplest thing in the world – good musicians with good song-writing abilities. That’s right folks, that’s all it takes. The songs are just the right length, nothing ever overstays its welcome, the choruses come in at just the right time, the mix is clean and tight, and the performances are rock solid; its all the ingredients of a truly great end product.

The band’s debut single and Mortal Kombat influenced banger, ‘The Winter Sun’ makes a stunning appearance here. Tight chugs, precise rhythms, the ideal mixture of rapping, screams, and cleans, a solid music video (context is key) and a dynamic mix help this song kick off the group’s debut EP in fine fashion.

Second and fastest single, ‘Until The Sky Falls’ is a lot like its predecessor, yet it focuses more on spoken word and even more on the dual-vocal styles of the outfit. The track fluctuates a lot between the band’s clean and heavy moments, yet this contrast has been done to great effect.

The Ocean’ is a more melodic track that is definitely the more commercial side of the band, especially with its chorus, and it’s probably the weakest song of the five. While not a bad song by any means, it’s just lacklustre, and it stops ‘Dark Sky’ from being one of the best EPs of the last 12 months.

Conversely, turn table scratching, massive synth and churning bass, as well as some nice word-play in the lyrics all help to make ‘Plastic Seams’ one of the best songs on offer. The title track is way more focused on the hip-hop, rap and electronic elements of the band’s sound, but like say, Linkin Park, there is a strong authenticity to it all and it’s definitely the wild card of the five songs. The heavier elements – the aforementioned chuggs and screams for example – do bleed through occasionally but that all takes a back seat here. Rather than being a failed experiment that you lock away in a dark cell until the horror movie directors come for new ideas, it shows that I Am Zero are more than just a one-dimensional newcomer to a scene that, for the most part, has been stuck in a 2-D realm for way too fucking long.

Conclusion

‘Dark Sky’ isn’t anything overly new, and it’s definitely not going to mind-fuck you with ridiculous technicality or something that is completely revolutionary, yet it does everything so damn well, that none of that matters in the end. It feels like a revitalisation of metalcore in Australia, and that’s exactly what we all needed. I Am Zero could go well and truly go the distance, so long as they keep making music as tantalisingly good as this banger of an EP.

Tracklisting

1. The Winter Sun

2. Until The Sky Falls

3. The Ocean

4. Plastic Seams

5. Darksky

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