–Game Zero: Rise (Agoge Records, 2015/16)

–Game Zero: Rise (Agoge Records, 2015/16)

Sometimes – once in a blue moon — a classic song will just appear out of nowhere. The timeless, irresistible riffs and melodies seemingly rise from the ether straight into one’s head and heart. Then, perhaps five-to-ten years down the road, the now ubiquitous song will be heard in grocery store aisles and movie theater restrooms everywhere. This song is so incredibly good that no one could possibly grow sick of it. 

The craft of songwriting is rarely this simple, of course. Just don’t tell that to Italian hard rock band Game Zero regarding their fantastic single, “The City With No Ends.” This track is extremely well-crafted and memorable, it is no surprise that it was featured as the showcase song in the 2016 Italian animated film, East End. “The City With No Ends” is indeed a special tune; from its biting main riff, punk/ska-like verses, incredibly catchy chorus melodies and swirling harmonies, and concise-yet-tasty guitar solo. Yes, this song is that good – hyperbole be damned. 

That is not to imply, however, that Game Zero is merely a one-hit wonder or anything of the sort. Many other tracks on their debut album, Rise, provide sing-able and headbanging moments for fans of modern hard rock and metal. The band, who hail from Rome, play various styles and consistently skirt the thin lines between post-rock, modern mainstream metal such as Avenged Sevenfold and Volbeat, and groove-oriented nü metal ala Disturbed or Godsmack. This diversity always sounds natural within the context of a song, rather than schizophrenic or gimmicky. That seamless stylistic blend makes Rise a consistently enjoyable listen – though “The City With No Ends” remains the definitive standout. 

Game Zero – Mark Wright, rhythm guitar/vocals; Alexincubus, lead guitar vocals; Domino, bass; and Dave J., drums – indeed get off to a promising start on Rise. Generally speaking, this album should mostly appeal to fans of a myriad of hard rock and metal styles, as opposed to sub-genre elitists. Game Zero sound comfortable driving in the mid-tempo lane, as in the Volbeat/Stone Sour-esque “It’s Over” and “Don’t Follow Me.” They accelerate the pace somewhat on “Time Is Broken,” which features a syncopated main riff, palm-muted guitar rhythms, and a catchy vocal melody in the chorus. “Lions and Lambs,” with its aggressive main riff and choice leads, is another clear highlight. On “Look At You,” Game Zero prove fully capable of going full-on speed metal/pop-punk with success. 

This band is at their best when they utilize all the musical dynamics at their disposal (“Crimson Wine,” “Close Your Eyes, “The City With No Ends”). While Rise doesn’t feel staid or formulaic, Game Zero might consider including more variation in their song structures and tempos to increase excitement. Also, Wright’s vocals are solid throughout, but his nasally tone may prove an acquired taste. That said, it is refreshing to hear a new modern metal act utilize solely clean singing rather than the ubiquitous and obnoxious screaming-and-yelling “heavy vocals” favored by so many young acts today. 

Overall, Italy’s Game Zero deliver a promising debut with Rise and a Song of the Year candidate in “The City With No Ends.” Visit Game Zero online here or on Facebook. – Jonathan Kollnot 


~ by jonnyboyrocker on December 26, 2017.

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