|Musical Style: Hard Rock||Produced By:|
|Record Label: Retroactive||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 2006||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 11||Rating: No Quote|
|Running Time: 45:33|
The history of Zion can be traced back to the first demo tape it recorded in 1982 before following up with a full length cassette only release entitled Rock For Eternity in 1984. The hard rocking South Dakota based outfit proceeded to sign with Image Records several years later, releasing its nine song David Zaffiro (Bloodgood) produced debut Thunder From The Mountain in 1989. At just the point it was getting ready to record its follow up sophomore effort, however, Zion fell apart before entering the studio and subsequently was never heard from again. Until now. Thrillseeker, the latest endeavor from Zion, is a very fine Retroactive Records compilation made up mostly of previously never heard before live tracks and the better material from the bands demo recordings from the eighties.
While the songs recorded live – comprising “Who Pulls The Strings”, “Kick In The Gates” and an instrumental – are all worth hearing, it is the demo material I find to be a real treat. Consisting of one song off the bands original 1982 demo (“He’s Got Power”), two from Rock For Eternity (“Rock For Eternity” and “Your Love”) and two more from the demo sessions that led to Zion signing with Image (“Big Fall” and a different version of the TFTM number “Roll The Rock”), the demo tracks are every bit as good if not better than much of the material that made its way onto TFTM. “He’s Got The Power”, “Rock For Eternity” and “Your Love”, for example, all highlight notable melodies while proving literal jam sessions – I love how Zion extends all three into the six and seven minute range – that allow guitarist David Moore to put on a virtual clinic with his fiery lead work and mega-tight sounding riffs. The gritty hard rocker “Big Fall”, on the other hand, might come in at “only” 5:42 but finds vocalist Rex Scott showcasing his trademark raspy and gut level vocal delivery in no uncertain terms. Drummer Tommy Bozung makes his presence felt as well, particularly on the appropriately entitled live instrumental “Drum & Bass Solo” (I’ll leave this one to your imagination!). Bass guitar duties are divided between Marlin Saner (all the live tracks), original Zion bassist Greg Sauer (“He’s Got Power” and the Rock For Eternity sessions), Rex Scott (“Roll The Rock” and “Big Fall”) and Jeff Johnson (the original TFTM version of “Thillseeker” that closes the album).
The production values to the demo tracks might lack the smooth sounding touch of TFTM but do a better job capturing the bands natural and all out raw energy. As a matter of fact, I cannot help but get the feeling that this is the way Zion truly sounds- gritty, scratchy and hard rocking while delivering an abundance of energy at the same time.
Thrillseeker gets underway to its three live compositions.
“Who Pulls The Strings” and “Kick In The Gates Of Hell” both translate well in a live setting, the latter still showcasing the same commercial sensibilities and former a nice stretch of tight sounding guitar harmony during its instrumental section which, of course, gets the crowd going.
The albums third live track, “Drum & Bass Solo”, is an instrumental in which Tommy Bozung – appropriately introduced to the crowd as Tommy “Gun” Bozung – delivers a drum solo backed by some heavy duty bass lines.
One again, it is the demo material in which the album hits its stride.
The instrumental section at the start of “He’s Got Power” begins to several seconds of open air rhythm guitar that segues to a stretch of ardent work on lead guitar. Gradually gaining momentum, the song advances at a scratchy mid-tempo pace prior to obtaining a gripping chorus accentuated by a faint trace of vocal harmonies. Moore returns to spice things up with another snarling guitar solo. “He’s Got Power” delivers a straightforward salvation message:
He’s got power to save us
He’s got power to bring us home
He’s got power to cleanse us
And His love, what it’s all about
There’s so much more waiting for you
You can have a new start
You can stop and see His glory
You can have a brand new start
“Radio Snippet”, as its title implies, is a short snippet of a DJ (from WPIT radio in Pittsburgh in early 1990) introducing the song “Kick In The Gates”.
“Rock For Eternity” begins to a throaty growl from Scott before launching into a fast paced riff that almost borders on speed metal. The song proceeds to taper off in anthem-like fashion for its verse portions only to regain the lost initiative for a rollicking chorus advancing at an energized upbeat tempo. Again tapering off, “Rock For Eternity” reaches an extensive instrumental section allowing Moore to showcase his tight as a nail work on rhythm and lead guitar. Scott puts on quite the passionate vocal performance here as well.
A quiet blend of acoustic guitar and guitar feedback introduces the seven minute “Your Love”. Abruptly picking up in pace, the song races ahead in up-tempo fashion before just as suddenly decelerating for a melodic based chorus in which a near tranquil setting is put into place. “Your Love” returns to its upbeat ways for the minute long instrumental section that follows. A second instrumental section closing out the songs final two and a half minutes allows Moore to pull out all the stops in no uncertain terms. “Your Love” also conveys a salvation message:
Got into drugs to find some peace
But You give me sweet release
Tried to fill an empty soul
But only You can fill that hole
Your love for me is forever, forever
Your love is like a light
“Big Fall” commences to a brief drum solo before taking off in a quickly moving manner. The rhythm guitar, however, drops from the mix as the song reaches its first verse only to come roaring back and lead the way to a bluesy chorus shored up by Scott’s gut level vocal delivery. Moore highlights another sweeping instrumental section with his ardent playing.
“Roll The Rock” is an alternate version of the TFTM track of the same name. The song, maintaining the driving mid-tempo impetus along with the deep sounding vocal harmonies backing its chorus, reflects a grittier and edgier vibe when compared to the original. The lyrics, however, have not changed:
Tryin’ to find the meaning of life
Don’t’ know where to look
Well, we don’t need “TM” or biofeedback
Just open the Book
He will roll the stone away from your mind
And away from your heart
He will give you His light with power and might
And that’s just a start
The albums title track is the same version of the song that made its original appearance on TFTM. "Thrillseeker" takes off in a rapid fashion only to abruptly stop dead in its tracks. Regaining its momentum, the song gradually moves ahead until gaining further impetus for a chorus driven with an abundance of the bands trademark all out raw energy.
Please note that at the end of the CD you will find a hidden bonus track of Zion performing a live version of the Kiss classic “Rock & Roll All Night” but with slightly altered lyrics:
I want to read the Word all night
And praise him every day
The only complaint is that I wish the sonics here happened to be a bit cleaner (it sounds like an old bootleg copy recorded on a cassette player hidden in someone’s back pocket).
While Thrillseeker proves a noteworthy release showcasing material that was either previously unavailable or very difficult if not impossible to find, in the end it leaves me with the feeling of wanting more. For example, it would have been nice to hear a couple of more live tracks along with several others from the bands demo recordings as well. Still, the album comes with a strong recommendation - again, the demo material is outstanding - for fans of not only Zion but other gritty hard rocking outfits such as X-Sinner, Whitecross, F.O.G., Spittin Jonah and Mission Of One.
Review by: Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Who Pulls The Strings” (4:23), “Kick In The Gates Of Hell” (3:24), “Drum & Bass Solo” (2:17), “Backstage Humor” (:27), “He’s Got Power” (6:48), “Radio Snippet” (:57), “Rock For Eternity” (6:35), “Your Love” (7:32), “Big Fall” (5:42), “Roll The Rock” (4:09), "Thrillseeker" (3:17)
Rex Scott – Lead Vocals
David Moore – Guitars
Jeff Johnson – Bass
Tommy Bozung – Drums