The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets

Picture of The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets

Spaceship Zero

The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets - Spaceship Zero ©2000 Divine Industries
1. Theme To Spaceship Zero
2. 20 Minutes Of Oxygen
3. The Innsmouth Look
4. Power Up
5. BTL Drive
6. Frogstar
7. The Math Song
8. Dies Ist Unverschämtheit
9. Oblivion
10. The Chosen One
11. Slave Ship
12. Requiem For A Clone Hunter
13. Kablam!
14. Sounds Of Tindalos
15. End Credits

It's not often one comes across a rock opera that escapes the spectre of pretentious drivel. In the case of British Columbia's The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets' Spaceship Zero, we finally have a concept album that is both an entertaining story as well as a rather rocking record. I suppose technically this is a space opera, but do not fear. There are no psychedelic Hawkwind-ish noodlings to be found here. Rather, the Thickets have a background based a bit more in punk rock (but mostly because they made their own stage costumes, which is so totally DIY). Granted, they should be classified more as Nerd Rock, as they embrace science fiction and nerdisms left and right. This is what makes them so endearing.

Spaceship Zero was also meant to coincide with a role playing game around the time of it release, though apparently logistics prevented this. Singer Toren Atkinson also wrote a comic book based on the story. As you can tell, this is precisely the type of nerdism I'm referring to. However, as geeky as they may be, the album itself is very good. Their sound isn't anything that redefines music, but they have solid songwriting skills that result in catchy song after catchy song. Who would have ever thought a song about numbers ("The Math Song") could be so chock full of juicy hooks? Other songs such as "The Chosen One" and "Kablam!" are extremely memorable and fun. It's always a relief when a band comes up with a high concept for their album and still remember to write good songs to accompany the story. This is a lesson Savatage apparently forgot.

Taken purely on merits of the music itself, Spaceship Zero is a very satisfying album that I've consistently enjoyed since I first bought it after a show a few years ago. The fact that they took the time to put together a story behind it and create its own universe is a bonus prize.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 09/2010

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