ZELLO – First Chapter, Second Verse

ZELLO - First Chapter, Second Verse


Lion Music
Release Date: November 11, 2004

Production: B+
Vocals: C
Guitar: C
Bass: C
Drums: B+
Keyboards: B
Violin: A
Bottom Line: B+

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The songs on this album by the Swedish Progressive Rock band, Zello, were originally released in 1996 on a CD titled Zello. Persons already familiar with this release can look forward to added guitar work and a major production overhaul. Guitars were added by Janne Stark (ex-Locomotive Breath). The original 1996 versions of these songs were made completely without guitars! Additionally, Lion Music indicates that most of the other parts have been re-recorded and re-arranged and that this should be seen as a new album versus a re-release. This release also contains two new tracks plus a live version of “Hold On.”

For those not familiar with the original release, you can expect to hear music that is well produced and has a certain “Kansas feel” to it. Most of this is due to the violin playing of Lennart Glenberg. The violin is well represented on most tracks by being evenly mixed in with guitars and the rhythm section. In some cases, the violin plays off of the other instruments in a sort of dueling nature and even has an occasional solo. Tracks like “Little Eve” and “Kelpie” are minute-long violin arrangements of orchestral proportions. These tracks are layered between normal vocal tracks acting, essentially, as lead-ins. They give the release a classical feel in some senses.

The guitar tracks by Janne Stark seem to be properly in tune and in sync with the spirit of Zello’s music. In fact after hearing this release, one will find it ludicrous that this music was even released without guitars in the first place. Ample time is also offered to the keyboard playing of Anders Altzarfeld and Mats Olsson, as several songs allow themselves the opportunity of a keyboard solo. In the tradition of Little Eve, the fourth track, entitled “Shades Of The Crying Children,” is a one-minute keyboard arrangement that has a light, airy, minstrel feel to it. By the way, “arrangements” is the proper word to use for these little instrumental tidbits, as these tracks are way outside the realm of what one would term “Heavy Metal” and are more classical in nature.

Bright spots are “Fairy Queen,” “Hold On,” and “The Children Are Crying” for their catchy choruses and Progressive instrumental sections lead by Glenberg’s violin. The added tracks “Traffic Jam” and “Through Clouds Of Virgin Angels” are both more Blues-based rockers than anything else on the rest of the release. These tracks might seem out of place, but they are welcome additions as they offer up some fine instrumental musicianship with a harder rock edge.

A few low moments are the inclusion of the instrumental track “The Humming,” which is a mix of birds tweeting, light keyboards, and almost flute-like sounds. This track goes on for about five minutes and some spots are so quiet that you’ll be checking your CD player to make sure it didn’t run out of batteries. What makes it worse is this track is placed right after one of the catchier mid-tempo rockers on the CD (“The Angels Have Fallen”), which takes you down an emotional roller coaster. Another downside are the occasional shortcomings of lead singer P.O. Saether’s English enunciation. On one of the most catchy choruses on the album, “The Children Are Crying,” P.O.’s enunciation of ‘Children’ comes out sounding like ‘Shildren.’ It’s unfortunate on this particular track, because the chorus is indeed so catchy that you might find yourself singing ‘The Shildren Are Crying’ while going about your day.

If you’re at all a fan of the American band Kansas, then you’ll find a lot to like in this revamped first release. You’ll be treated to some pleasurable Melodic, Progressive rock, laden with plenty of catchy choruses, violins, keyboards and guitars.


  • Scott Jeslis

    Scott is one of the partners at Metal Express Radio. He handles a lot of Metal Express Radio's public relations, screening of new music and radio scheduling. On occasion, he also does reviews and interviews. He has been a proud member of the Metal Express Radio crew since 2004.

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