Prior to writing this report, I have to admit that I feel really lucky for experiencing the Greek scene to its highest creativity level. Many bands emerge from this restless hive, making continuous progress and drawing our attention through their musical vision and intriguing ideas; among these, I consider the Athenian heavy metallers Null ‘O’ Zero a worth mentioning group of people.
by Alex Nikolaidis
The band made its first appearance in 2012, releasing the “Under Blood Red Sky” EP; three years later, the debut album “The Enemy Within” was available via Roar - Rock of Angels Records. Currently, Null ‘O’ Zero prepare their second effort, “Instructions To Dominate”, through the same label, due to be released on July 13.
Recently, the band and their producer, Thimios Krikos, welcomed us to Devasoundz Studios for a thorough briefing and listening session of the forthcoming album. As Lefteris Moros (drums) explained to us, since the first release – and during the composing process - some members of the band experienced serious difficulties in their lives. Hence, “Instructions To Dominate” is driven by negative feelings like pain, anger and frustration; however, in the middle of despair, hope arises.
These two opposite but interconnected sides are expressed clearly throughout the ten songs of the album. From the very first listening session, it is evident that “Instructions To Dominate” is rather aggressive, but the melodic aspect of the band counteracts anger effectively and in perfect balance. A track by track brief look justifies my initial impression:
- “Instructions To Dominate”: After a short introduction, a rhythmic part follows with a vivid, solid sound, succeeded by melodic sections. Geo Sinner’s vocal lines, either melodic during refrains, or more intense and rough elsewhere, upgrade the overall quality of the track. A lead guitar solo towards the end is a glimpse of the band’s musicianship. The first track depicts rather clearly what the band does; interchanging aggressive and melodic parts, appealing refrains and dynamic vocals.
- “The Last One”: The song starts with an aggressive performance of rhythm guitar, bass and drums. However, I noticed more technical riffing later on, followed by a melodic part. This track certainly depicts the overall “angry” attitude of the band.
- “My Last Disguise”: The song has a rather pompous feeling, with strong, solid riffing. Like the two previous songs, it contains intriguing and memorable refrains, nicely performed by Geo, and lead solos that reveal Elias Andritsos’ expertise. An acoustic bridge, with the discreet presence of drums, eases our senses.
- “Imprisoned In The Dark”: Like “The Last One”, the song features a dynamic performance by the band’s rhythm section and crushing drum hits. Its title implies the rather gloomy atmosphere of the track.
- “Decline The Legacy”: Contrary to the previous song, melodies take over, in a rather “open-hearted” sense. Lead guitar patterns have a dominant role later on, while a rhythmic section delivers us to Geo’s melodic vocals.
- “Face Down The World”: In my humble opinion, this song has one of the most addictive rhythms of the album. Lefteris’ drums signify the transition to an electrifying riff part, which is enriched by solos and timely use of vocals. The track ends with beautifully crafted melodic patterns.
- “Better Off Dead”: The band shows us its aggressive temper with the intense, crushing rhythm section standing out. However, refrain remains more sentimental. Once again, nicely crafted solos draw our attention.
- “Until The End Of Life”: This is the ballad of the album. The melodic guitar intro caused me a nostalgic sense, bringing to my mind monumental American bands. Geo gives a more sensuous tone to his voice, being the real protagonist of the song, while drum hits remain purposefully discreet. Later on, proper riffing creates a dynamic and emotional musical landscape, involving the most appealing solo of the album. The ending with piano and a violin intensifies the overall nostalgic feeling.
- “Trapped In A Maze”: The band returns to the aggressive style of previous songs; that means very heavy and up-tempo riffing. I liked the melodic part towards the end, which indicated the technical progress that the band has made.
- “Hate”: The word I would use to describe the song is “turbulence”; extremely heavy and rhythmic riffs, supported by blast beats, that blows us away. “Hate” is probably the most powerful and aggressive song, ending the album ideally.
The ten songs of “Instructions To Dominate”, all composed by Elias Andritsos, indicate that the band has reached a higher level, working hard during the last three years. Null ‘O’ Zero deliver to our eager ears fresh and modern heavy metal, combining a really crushing rhythm section, excellent riffing by the two guitarists and amazing vocals by Geo Sinner, originating from Tim “Ripper” Owens’ field. Essentially, the band plays continuously between strong, intense, grooving rhythms and delicate, melodic patterns, creating an album that grasps you completely within its multi-level structure, without causing you boredom.
However, I should make a special comment about the vocalist of the band. I have the impression that Geo has a more prominent role in the album; it’s like “Instructions To Dominate” was composed especially for him. His abilities really show off throughout all the songs, but in “Until The End Of Life” he really excels. However, I may not be unbiased, since that particular song reminded me of my teenage years and an American band that I worshipped then (and I still do).
Finally, the production of Thimios Krikos and Fotis Benardo is responsible for the crystal clear sound we heard. The album was mixed by Thimios Krikos and Nikos Iosifidis, additionally engineered by Nikos Iosifidis and Akis Pastras and mastered by Peter In de Betou at Tailor Made Production, Sweden (Arch Enemy, Dark Tranquillity, Dimmu Borgir, Dream Evil, Firewind, Havok). The album artwork was made by Giannis Nakos of Remedy Art Design. Also, there are two guest appearances by Thimios Krikos (last solo in “Until the End of Life”) and George Georgiou (piano in “Until the End of Life”).
Myth of Rock wishes good luck to Null ‘O’ Zero and looks forward to hearing some of the new songs live next month to Rockwave Festival, when the band will perform among titans of classic heavy metal.