ZENO – Runway To The Gods

ZENO - Runway To The Gods


MTM Music
Release date: October 20, 2006

User Review
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Many psychological studies have been made around the centuries old topic of “sibling rivalry.” For all non-psychology majors, it might be safe to assume that the topic probably includes discussion of “living in the shadow” of one’s older brother. For Zeno Roth, that shadow is quite possibly even more difficult to overcome when it’s a huge shadow cast by a very talented musician, such as his brother, the infamous, Uli John Roth (most notably of Scorpions fame).

All psychology aside, Zeno Roth is perhaps just as equally known (outside of the USA, that is) for his guitar playing as much as his elder brother. There certainly are some similarities between them; they both like Jimi Hendrix, both favor Stratocasters, and both have a similar playing style using relative scales, etc. In fact, to the untrained ear, one might suspect that some of the guitar work on Runway To The Gods, Zeno’s fourth studio release, is indeed done by Uli John.

Zeno has a habit of taking a while between releases, and Runway To The Gods is no exception, as its been eight years since Zeno released its predecessor, Listen To The Light. The extended “release to market” time could be due in part to Zeno being the ultimate overachiever. On this release, Zeno handles and is accredited for the duties of almost every conceivable role, other than lead vocals, on ten of eleven tracks.

One difference between Zeno and his brother is Zeno’s past choice to play accessible, mainstream, Melodic Rock that is nowhere as eccentric as Uli’s solo works. Zeno maintains that trend on Runway To The Gods, playing what sounds like Hard/Pop Rock with a tinge of an 80’s sound. Perhaps Michael Bormann’s (Jaded Heart) slightly, raspy vocal chords have a hand in it, but the music here has a feel similar to that of late 80’s Q5 (Seattle based, Floyd Rose’s band) intertwined with the impressive, melodic guitar work of Zeno.

Some of the highlights include the opener “Fanfares Of Love,” where there is no delay in getting to the “Roth-en” guitar work. It’s an up-tempo Hard Rocker with plenty of melody and a favorably strong appeal. “Climb The Sky” follows… being more of a mid-tempo Rocker it reiterates a couple of additional strengths of this release: the strong song writing and the impressive vocals of Bormann. An emotional, heartfelt solo by Zeno is just icing on the cake. “Land of Illusion” is another mid-tempo winner; even though it has a few guitar-fill moments where Zeno teases, making you think he’s going to unleash a “mean ass” solo, but he ends up showing quite a bit of restraint. The majority of the album follows suit to these first three songs.

Downsides are the occasional balladry of a couple of slower songs that cause a break in the pace, nevertheless Zeno’s guitar provides uplifting moments in those songs as well. Other instruments played by Zeno are performed sufficiently, but nothing over the top. Zeno does sing lead on “Do You Feel The Time” and, as one might expect, sounds similar to his brother Uli with a heavy, thick, vocal style. The track is rescued by a tremendous harmony chorus by Bormann, which lifts the track out of the ranks of obscurity.

Bottom line, whatever the reason for the wait between releases, if each as is good as this one, then Zeno fans shouldn’t complain (even though eight years may stretch even the most diehard fan’s dedication some). Overall, a very strong contender for any Top Ten Melodic Rock album list for 2006. Regardless of that, ranking this one should also appeal to guitar fanatics everywhere, as Zeno, perhaps, gives fans a glimpse into what the other Roth would be capable of had he himself chosen a similar musical path.


Zeno Roth – Guitars, All Other Instruments, Harmony Vocals, Lead Vocals (“Do You Feel The Time”), Production, Mix
Michael Bormann – Lead Vocals, Harmony Vocals


  • 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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