If there was ever a band making music because they wanted to and not caring if anyone else liked it, Zero Down is it. These cats have been lurking in the most obscure corners of metaldom since 2002 and managed to self release three prior albums, with No Limit to the Evil being the latest. They rock an olden style of metal something like a mash up of British Steel era Judas Priest mixed with Motorhead, hard rock and punk, and in all honestly, it’s a bit of a hot mess. That isn’t to say it doesn’t work, because at times it does and does so righteously, but it’s just as apt to collapse back onto itself and implode into cheesy silliness and poor writing choices. And is that fucking Mattlock crucified on the cover? My mom won’t like that. Not. One. Bit.
There are some simple, knuckleheaded anthems here like lead track “Return of the Godz” and its odd mix of biker rock, over-the-top metal vocals and Thin Lizzy riffs. The repeated refrain of “world wars, dead whores” is sure to elicit a giggle or two and it’s tough to deny the tune’s goofy charm. The follow up title track is also barrels of fun with a rocking vibe and the winning line “I will murder you…monetarily.” The chorus is a fist pumper and though it’s a bit silly and tongue-in-cheek, it’s a good listen. The same can be said for “Steve McQueen” and its manic, but grooving take on cock rock mixed with Germanic power metal like Accept and Herman Frank.
Unfortunately, the band can’t keep things on an even keel and subsequent tunes like “Cold Winter’s Night” and “Leche di Tigre” are far more generic and unworkable, and “Suicide Girl” has some nifty riffs but fails to work due to a significant chorus flop. Ultimately, No Limit to the Evil ends up bouncing around from good to bad, with nothing coming close to the quality the first two songs.
Song writing consistency aside, I’ll hand it to Mark Hawkinson for some inspired and diverse vocals. He has a nicely gritty delivery and can hit some weird, Halford-esque shrieks and odd King Diamond like falsettos. Some of his vocals come off as silly, way too overdone and a parody of metal itself, but the guy brings it and certainly isn’t lacking in enthusiasm. The lyrics run between amusing and cringe-inducing, but hey, it’s metal, not quantum physics. Matt Fox is probably the bigger star here and his helter skelter collection of riffs from the 70s and 80s keep things interesting even on the lesser songs. He borrows a lot from the Thin Lizzy playbook, but he’s not afraid to pillage the works of Iron Maiden, Motley Crue and any number of other acts when looking for inspiration. The man can play and when I hear what he’s capable of, I can’t help but think of the “man, what are you doing here?” line from “Piano Man.”
This ends up feeling like a slapped together party metal album with some fun, utterly mindless moments, and I can totally see it getting better in equal measure to how much alcohol one consumes. It certainly has the air guitar quotient in place if nothing else. It also entertained me just enough to wish it was better and a more even affair. Ah hell, it’s the end of the year. Blast it as you get hammered on eggnog and moonshine and you’ll have a blast.