by: Emerson Brown
Mar 1st 04
A Passage in Time Authority Zero Album
Listening to “A Passage in Time” by the Mesa, Arizona-based quartet Authority Zero, the songs blaring from the stereo speakers might be better labeled Originality Zero or Identity Zero.
On paper, the band sounds like they might be a driving mix of pop punk, ska and surf. On CD, though, their music fits nicely on the shelf created for the mass consumption of punk by scensters at Hot Topic and testosterone addled meatheads at extreme sports events.
The bottom line is Authority Zero is derivative — and, not in a good way. Their music is not an homage, tribute or retro-cool. These guys are so enamored of bands such as Bad Religion, Pennywise, Operation Ivy, and Sublime that it can truly be charged with operating under the influences on this album.
Instead of distilling these influences and creating a sound of their own, Authority Zero pens individual songs for each band they admire. The result yields more of a mix tape than album. “A Passage in Time” has pop punk songs, ska songs, surf songs and pop punk songs with a reggae/ska breakdown.
The lyrics and vocals conform to the same standard of nonconformity as the music. The most tarnished example being “Superbitch.” Without any irony intended and delivered in an unfunny manner, the lyrics “I’m gonna give it to you just one more time/Cuz baby when I see your face/You take me away to that special place” could be put to a Neptunes beat and easily mistaken for the Justified one himself.
At best, the vocal delivery is a good Greg Graffin impression and at worst, James Hetfield singing reggae.
Given all this, there still remains an even bigger disappointment on this album. The biggest letdown here is that Authority Zero show glimpses of intelligence and talent but simply refuse to embrace either.
They would rather let us hear where they’re coming from than where they’re going. I’m not interested in hearing that. We’ve heard those bands before and know the songs well. I would like to hear what Authority Zero sounds like now.