The major label success of 10 Years has left an indelible imprint on Knoxville’s music scene. There’s been a noticeable increase in the number of macho modern rock bands gigging and recording in town in the last few years, many of them effectively anonymous despite supreme competence and occasional gilmmers of real talent. Two recent entries fit that bill almost exactly with a pair of accomplished self-released albums that showcase legitimate talent but do little to stand out from the growing pack of overemotive alterna-arena rockers.
It’s no surprise that one of the Zero Point guys is wearing a Tool T-shirt in the photo on the back of the band’s self-titled debut. The prog-rock iconoclasts offer an obvious blueprint for Zero Point’s dark, brooding hard rock. But the locals can’t match the sinewy, serpentine twists and turns of Tool. What they can do is provide a platform for lead guitarist Ox, whose clean tone, fluid lines, and shredding melodicism are the highlight of Zero Point.
The power trio No Love Lost has the benefit of production by Travis Wyrick, who’s been at the center of this recent local modern-rock explosion. That makes for an explosive, dynamic disc that takes advantage of energetic songs and enthusiastic performances by singer/guitarist Brad Dills, bassist Brent Myers, and drummer J.D. Matlock. It all sounds polished and radio-ready; Dills’ voice, in fact, is a force all its own. The trouble is that No Love Lost sounds impressive in small doses but is wearingly monotone over the course of its full 35 minutes. It’s too often the case that Wyrick outshines the young bands he produces. In the case of No Love Lost, he’s got plenty to work with, but the band’s got plenty to work on, too, if they want to match his studio magic.