By JAY ROBERTS
The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.
NEVADA BEACH – ZERO DAY (1990)
You’ll have to pardon my ignorance when it comes to the band Nevada Beach. Despite their album Zero Day having been released over 30 years ago, it wasn’t until I started listening to the cassette for this article that I’d ever even heard of the band. I’m not quite sure how it is that I completely missed out on so much as even hearing the name of the band before, but somehow I managed it.
That’s the downside of things. The upside is that I got to hear this as a completely new album. And let me tell you, this was a fantastic listening experience!
Nevada Beach hailed from New Hampshire. And while that wasn’t exactly a hotbed of metal bands in the 80’s and early 90’s, the lineup of Hank Decken (vocals and writer of all ten tracks on the album), Geoff Safford (guitars), Tony Rivers (bass) and John Murphy (drums) sure had their collective fingers on the pulse of what a rock/metal album should be back then.
Originally, the first side of Zero Day presented me with peaks and valleys when it came to the songs. There were two songs that just didn’t quite hit the mark with me the first time I listened to the album. So it’s a good thing in my book that I listened to the album a few times because those two songs grew on me a lot and that made the entire first side of the album a winner for me.
The first of those two tracks was “On Zero Day” and it started out with a bit more of a methodically paced sound and got heavier as the song built to the chorus. The second song was the side closing power ballad “Only The Fool”. It has a heavier musical sound than what you might expect from a standard power ballad and I think that is what helped the song grow on me over time.
Of course, the other three songs on Side One were instant hits for me. Fast paced rockers with a catchy vibe and a chorus that hooks you from the start. The album opens with “Rough House” which should’ve been a single release because it has a immediately memorable melody line and the vocals from Decken remind you of a Bon Scott vocal performance. The comparison to Bon Scott is best exemplified by the song “Action Reaction”, a balls out rocker that hits you hard and fast yet has a compelling sense of melodic timing to it as well. The song “Waiting For An Angel” might make you think the song is a ballad, but it’s actually quite the rocking little number and the one song that had a video made for it. (You can find that on Youtube.)
While the first side of the album took a little work for me to fully grasp ALL five songs, it was love at first listen when it came to Side Two.
That side started off with a trio of songs that captured the blood pumping anthemic nature of the Nevada Beach songwriting. “Back For Blood” goes for the throat while “Walking Dead” is a rocket fueled burst of anthemic choruses and some fast moving fretwork. “Stand” is a stand out rocker as well.
The song “Big Zero” is probably the slowest track on Side Two. It moves back and forth in tempo but it grows into a big ball of sound that will stick with you.
As for the album ending “Gagged and Bound”, it’s a burst of frenetic energy powered by an aggressive burst of music and a fiery vocal take. It’s one of my favorite songs on the album!
I know that we’re talking about an album that was released 31 years ago here. It’s long since past time for my enthusiastic raving about this “new” discovery of mine to do much good for the band’s fortunes. But how can you not love the possibility of discovering something you missed out on turning out to be this stunningly fantastic example of entertaining hard rock / heavy metal?
Nevada Beach might not have struck it big in 1990, but it certainly wasn’t because they lacked the material to do so. Zero Day has at least three songs that could’ve / should’ve been huge single hits for them and there’s not a bad track amongst the entire collection of tracks. If there was ever an album that Rock Candy Records should be salivating about reissuing, it’s this one!
NOTES OF INTEREST: The band had a five track self-titled EP that was released in 1990 before the full-length album came out. Years after disbanding, Hank Decken put the band back together and in 2016 they self-released the 10 track album Read It On The Wall. The album reportedly features material that was originally written in the 1990’s. You can check out the band on social media by clicking HERE.
Hank Decken released the solo albums Life Around The Edges (1999), Another Seven Days (2002) and Fading Forward (2014).
The one nitpick I had with the album has nothing to do with the music. The sleeve design made the white text on it a little hard to read. It wasn’t anything that affected my enjoyment of the music but it was annoying when I was trying to read some of the information.