Sometimes you just want to like a band. I felt that way when I pulled this CD out of the envelope. I liked the name. I liked the logo. I had high hopes for this record after seeing the lineup: former Fates Warning drummer Mark Zonder, MSG guitarist/keyboard player Wayne Findlay, Steve Vai bassist Philip Bynoe and Tribe of Gypsies singer Gregg Analla. Slavior, though, just doesn’t deliver what you expect with that background.

Instead of the cocktail of traditional, power and progressive you might expect, they dish out a collection of modern hard rock that you can hear all day long on any FM rock station. Findlay delivers simplistic riffs to back Analla’s vocals that are a combination of Layne Staley-inspired moans, semi-rap deliveries and sensitive artist whines.

There are few highlights among the 10 tracks here. The funky, progressive opening riff of “Another Planet” is nice. The song itself is probably the strongest effort on the record, reminiscent of Facelift-era Alice in Chains. The band delivers up the hardest riffing on the track “Slavior,” but there’s not much to recommend the tune after that initial blast, as it morphs into essentially a Disturbed rip-off.

There’s an interesting reggae-ish bit in the middle of “Altar” that’s memorable, but reggae influence also provides perhaps the most embarrassing moment on the album, when they go for the full-on reggae opening of “Dove” that falls really flat. That moment gets heavy competition from the funk stylings of “Give It Up” that find Analla delivering an almost spoken word verse over a funky clean guitar, Red Hot Chili Peppers style, but his vocals are really not cool enough to pull it off. He just ends up sounding very white. And let’s not even get started about the drum machine on the opening of “Red Road.” Come on. The band was founded by a drummer … and you’re using a drum machine?

Despite a promising group of musicians, Slavior is an all-around disappointment. In trying to “break the mold,” the band seems to forget where their most likely group of fans is going to come from — Zonder’s progressive past. In all, this is pretty much a waste of a good band name.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Fred Phillips
February 15th, 2008


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