Sometimes you go to see a band and return home not having a clue as to why this band are together, what is their purpose in life and why they think they can have a valid claim on an hour of your time without any comprehensible reason to substantiate it. With Zenyth, however, all is clear – these guys want to be rock stars. Bona fide, limousine-riding, multi-million dollar selling, jet setting international rock stars. It takes, however, two essential ingredients to become that: an ability to write great songs and an understanding of modern realities which allows the band to formulate a convincing message for the young generation. Even though the potential is there, so far it is not clear if Zenyth will succeed in delivering either of these two ingredients necessary for any serious success.

The music that the band plays has its roots in the classic hard rock tradition – they are influenced by a lot of 1970s bands from Led Zeppelin to UFO. Of all past rock genres which are now being revived by the new generation of musicians, British classic hard rock is the hardest to engage in. This music had incredibly high standards not only of musicianship, but of composition too, so Zenyth face a bigger challenge than most of their revivalist contemporaries who turn to the 1980s glam metal for inspiration – a genre which is easier to interpret and to emulate.

To give Zenyth credit, their guitarist Chud is technically skilled and competent, even though in his solos he doesn’t quite paint the vivid pictures or tell thrilling stories the way Michael Schenker or Jimmy Page used to do it. Vocalist Paul has an abrasive, husky voice which sounds a bit like young Paul Rogers, but slightly rougher and more urgent.

In the set of six songs that Zenyth played on the night, ‘Eyes Closed’ was the band’s best shot at a potential rock anthem. It had a good riff, a stable hook and a skilled, technically challenging guitar solo which could have been a real gem if only Chud would let it breathe a bit more.

Sometimes a melodic, almost vocal sounding solo is a good way to add an extra dimension to a hard rock song – a method which Chud employed in ‘Blue Sky’ – and which clearly worked for this dreamy, beautiful song. I wish Chud got a chance to expand on this approach some more throughout the set, but instead he chose to present a lot of evidence of his considerable technical ability, while often falling short of seriously expanding and developing the melody lines. Don’t get me wrong – Chud is an excellent guitarist, in fact he is so good that you want him to be great, because you know that he has the potential to be up there with real guitar heroes, it’s just that his solos do not quite take the listener on an adventure the way truly amazing hard rock story-tellers like Jimmy Page, Ritchie Blackmore or Randy Rhodes used to do it.

‘Like a Young Girl Should Be’ was an original song with a lot of energy and some bouncy, catchy moments. Paul knows how to sing a rock song without inhibition or shyness, and his intonations fall in place perfectly, wholeheartedly complementing the feel you get from this band.

The highlight of the show was ‘Missing in Me’, a bold song with an impressive guitar intro, energetic vocals and an ostinato chorus that made you think of the first two Deep Purple albums.

What transpired after the show is that Zenyth are at a dangerous stage where they know they can write, but it is not yet clear how they are going to develop this skill further, and the level that their song writing is at now is not enough to move the band into the league they want to be in. In rock music (and this is where this business differs from pop), song writing is the most important ingredient that will ultimately make a band and ensure its lasing career. With a lot of new bands, once they learn to write a little, what follows is that they stop developing this vitally important skill – sometimes because of an inability to keep focussed on a long-term goal or because of a difficulty in judging their own music objectively, which, I agree, is extremely difficult to do, even for established musicians.

In an unsigned band, this is where the manager should always come in, because before the band gets signed, it is his (or hers) responsibility to listen to their material objectively and to guide them. A truly good manager, even when an amateur, will always pressure the band to write more and to write better. I know nothing about Zenyth’s manager or what he says to his band. He could be ringing them up at 5 AM every morning demanding better tunes. If so, then he is the best manager they can hope for and they would be fools not to listen to him. However, the general advice to any new band is to never sign a management deal with a person who tells you that you are the best thing since Led Zeppelin and don’t need improving.

Being able to write a truly good hook, a memorable chorus or a great riff is what in the end will get a band a record deal. Zenyth intuitively know this and focus on the right thing. It will just take time to see if they are going to be able to make a significant qualitative breakthrough in their song writing in the near future. If they do, this will ensure the progress of their career. If, however, it doesn’t happen any time soon, there is a danger that the band will get stuck in a pattern and will continue going in circles.

While it’s possible to get a record deal on the strength of the material alone, in order to become real stars they would need to be more aware of what goes on in the modern world. All bands draw inspiration from their predecessors, but the uncritically inherited legacy which hasn’t been shaped to resonate with the modern times will never make any band sound like they have something to say to their generation.

Zenyth, however, is a young band. They have the looks, a willingness to succeed and a potential to write memorable and well-crafted songs. It will, however, require a awful lot of hard work to get where they want to be. Becoming a seriously good musician takes huge amounts of intense work, and becoming a rock star takes an understanding not only of what music is about, but of what people around you really want to hear – a new and fresh take on what the young generation loves, hates and dreams about.

Guest article from Alyssa O.

Written by Guest Writers on

Between 2003 and 2009, [the-mag] had regular contributors from music correspondents covering their local scene. You'll find them all in the guest writers section. The specific writer is mentioned at the bottom of each article.

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