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Mile Marker Zero - "Mile Marker Zero" (CD)

Mile Marker Zero - "Mile Marker Zero" CD cover image

"Mile Marker Zero" track listing:

1. A Thousand Nights
2. Laceration
3. A Kiss To Fix
4. Passive
5. Crimson Red
6. Marée
7. In Loving Memory Of…
8. Peril Aerial
9. Reaping Tide
10. Hush

Reviewed by on October 12, 2009

"Mile Marker Zero have cleaned up what was good about this genre, made it professional and palatable, and put so much feeling behind it."

Connecticut’s Mile Marker Zero have put together a solid album geared to modern progressive rock enthusiasts. Having shared the stage with veterans such as Porcupine Tree, it’s not hard to see where their influences lie after just one listen. Keeping an eye on their style though, Mile Marker Zero’s self-titled album shows that they are significantly more accessible than other progressive rock bands and don’t rely on how “different” they are from most of the music world to draw people in. Instead, they go for doing the best they can with what’s worked.

Immediately noticeable on the first track, “A Thousand Nights,” is the band’s tight rhythm section and experienced, but not flashy, drumming. Vocalist Dave Alley sets the song in motion saying “give yourself away to this and let go” in a style reminiscent of Porcupine Tree main man Steven Wilson, but soon shows that his individual style incorporates much more than just this. With an emotional inflection characteristic of REM vocalist Michael Stype and a range and fervor to envy, Alley’s vocals make the songs either shimmer, weep, or float. His complex vocal layering also makes for enlightening melodic movements. The height of the vocals on the album is split between the tracks “In Loving Memory Of…” and “Peril Aerial,” where Alley’s pained vocals make for some of the most intimate and felt prog rock songs.

Guitarists will find much to love here from experienced guitarist John Tuohy. In the mix the guitars are up front but don’t hog the show. Songs like “Peril Aerial’,” “A Kiss To Fix,” and “Crimson Red” show off Tuohy’s progressive rock solo style with a touch of soulful blues feel with enough flair to impress and enough sensibility to stay back when needed, much like Candlebox’s Kevin Martin. Keyboardist Mark Focarile sits on top of the mix of these elements and provides a gloss with memorable and emotion-filled playing. Not to be limited, he pulls out Wurlitzers, mellotrons, B3 organ, as well as a piano to expand the band’s sound. Influenced by Opeth’s Per Wiberg and Dream Theater’s Jordan Rudess, his playing style on this album is more assisting than stand-out, though it’s easily one of the most memorable elements. Drummer Doug Alley, with his well-developed clever style, and bassist Tim Rykoski keep the rhythm section tight at all times.

Overall, this album is a great choice for fans of progressive rock without all the inaccessibility and needless excessive instrumentation. It bleeds the feel of Marillion and Porcupine Tree while standing on its own. Mile Marker Zero have cleaned up what was good about this genre, made it professional and palatable, and put so much feeling behind it.

Highs: Genuinely unique vocal stylings, effective tasteful quality musicianship.

Lows: This is mostly progressive rock, not metal.

Bottom line: This is a great progressive rock effort, with less of the mystery or inaccessibility that other bands in the genre tend to have.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)