Zenobia is a band from Germany I had never heard of before and after a lot of research on the web, still don’t know much more about. Talk about under-rated! I am certainly glad however to have their newest 2006 release, Delayed, here for review. It’s quite good. Information I have from the press release states they have a 1999 CD by the name of October as well. There are five members all playing the traditional guitar, drums, bass, keyboards and vocals.
Delayed begins with a 15 minute opus “Billy the Brain.” It’s lyrically a very clever story about a very bright boy “born with an IQ of 200… and something.” He is convinced by Mother Nature to invent a virus that rids the earth of all those annoying humans by reverting them to their primal state. He then lives his life alone on earth, writing his memoirs while the earth’s vegetation overruns “cars and buildings.” Musically, it’s fairly complex with memorable passages reminding me slightly of a more relaxed A.C.T. There’s a great Hammond solo at about 6 minutes or so, and nice segues while it passes from one melodic idea to the next.
Next up is “Moonstone Sky,” which also closes the disc in a remixed version. This song has a very catchy chorus and powerful guitar instrumentation. “The Living Element” is the next cut and once again we are treated to a very intelligent lyric. The idea for this song is describing fire as a living entity. The lyrics throughout Delayed are smart and have a nice subtle sense of humor. “Try To Wake Up” charmingly uses a toy piano sound for its introduction, but it’s perhaps the least memorable of all songs from this album.
The 34 minute “Meet Your Maker” encompasses tracks #5 through #11. It’s very nicely developed, but possibly reveals some of the shortcomings of this band. At times the singer seems to be reaching for the notes a little too harshly. Also, not all the pieces in this epic are as impressive as some of the others. Furthermore, I wish that they would have just included it all on one track so that when I set my player on shuffle, I don’t get such abrupt endings and starts. These are fairly minor complaints however.
Does anyone remember the 70’s band Mr. Big? Not the 80’s heavy metal band with Paul Gilbert and Billy Sheehan, but the art-rock Queen influenced group that issued a record called Photographic Smile. This is who I kept thinking of when I was listening to this recording. Partially because I believe there are some similarities in the singer’s voices, but also because instrumentation and the cleverness of lyrics are not dissimilar.
Overall, these are quality compositions with creative ideas. It’s intelligent progressive rock music. Although comparisons to Spock’s Beard are made in what little I have read, I find Zenobia to be not very derivative and quite unique.
Reviewed by Terry Jackson on April 20th, 2007