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Rating: 7.5/10
 
Any successful act in the music industry will tell you that a key to longevity is overcoming adversity. There are any number of road-blocks that will present themselves in your path, and how you respond to those encumbrances will be the difference between obscurity and stardom.
 
By rights, Authority Zero as an entity could have folded on any number of occasions. There have been myriad member shifts over the past decade, as well as financial turmoil and personal strife to contend with. However, Jason DeVore has managed to keep his group together by hook or by crook throughout. This is a true testament to a prevailing sense of optimism that has shown through again and again in the band’s music over the years- and is now representative of the band itself.
 
The group’s upcoming album, The Tipping Point, identifies as more of a rock-oriented record than their preceding releases. The riffs are as blisteringly fast as ever, they just open the throttle a bit more on the low end. The album feels stylistically similar to 2007’s 12:34, and is a definite progression from 2010’s Stories of Survival that still manages to maintain a measure of the punk and raggae roots that have been a mainstay of Authority’s sound over the years.
 
What continually impresses me about AZ compositions, and concurrently their albums, is the unrelenting energy, enthusiasm and positivity of the tunes. Lyrically, DeVore speaks to enduring struggle and strife and emerging triumphant. With tracks like, “For the Kids,” the group acknowledges their loyal listeners, the band’s struggle against circumstance and those with the fortitude to soldier on when times look bleak. Unlike many groups who concern themselves with the darker aspects of the human existence, Authority Zero are ever-vigilant to keep their eyes aimed at the horizon for any signs of light. Even the more pensive and introspective track, “Today We Heard the News,” written about the passing of Tony Sly of No Use For A Name, has a celebratory feel, not a mournful tone. The Tipping Point is certainly not an album that weeps over wounds.
 


 
As with any band worth their salt, there will be a tangible progression from album to album. Themes change, stylistic preferences undulate… but when half of your band’s roster has left since your previous effort, the emphasis may shift toward simply maintaining a level of craftsmanship rather than going out on a limb artistically. If that was the case with Authority, it certainly isn’t evident. The material is aggressive, emphatic and dripping with hooks. DeVore has an amazing ear for melody, and it helps to establish each individual song in spite of the tonal or structural similarities to any preceding compositions.

As DeVore said in our recent interview regarding the creative process for the new album, “The songwriting changed drastically. Again, there are now new people you’re still getting to know and (you’re) trying to incorporate their specific style and taste into an already somewhat developed sound. (The) great thing about it is this group has always been based on the idea of writing new ways and new sounds: so you welcome it with open arms. You just make it work and build off of their ideas. Same with them and my own ideas. There are definitely elements of my solo writing that have come into play on the past two records and I’m sure when people listen back it will be pretty identifiable.”
 
Choice cuts: “Today We Heard the News” “No Other Place” “Undivided” “Take or Leave It” “For the Kids”
 
The change in roster has certainly seemed to inject some new vitality into the band’s dynamic. The pace of the songs is consistently driving, and yet the band still allows for dynamic shifts and thematic emphasis from track to track. The addition of Amarillo, TX native Brandon Landelius on guitar along with legendary punk drummer Sean Sellers (Good Riddance, Real McKenzies) to the core of DeVore and bassist Jeremy Wood has created a new and effervescent vibe for the record’s 12 tracks.
 
“The excitement and anticipation for the new album The Tipping Point that I have is unparalleled,” says DeVore. “The closest thing I can think of is how I felt when we first released A Passage In Time so many years ago. You feel you’re really doing something right when you and the members of your band are rocking out to it like it’s their new favorite album that just came out. That’s how it should feel. The energy, the intensity, and collaborative sounds along with a new realm of production working with Cameron Webb has made it extremely intense. It’s a taste of the old-school and slingshots into new areas and veins of music we have yet to tap into. We’ve also incorporated some surprise elements. It’s an album based on the idea of tipping the scales, unity, causing a ruckus while forging on, and the history and future of all who have been involved and will be for years to come. We’re fired up.”
 
AZ
The enthusiasm is definitely infectious. The tracks will have you throwing a fist in the air and singing along from the album’s onset and will keep you on edge throughout. If you are an Authority Zero fan, there are all the touchstones of the classic Authority sound to glom on to, but there are plenty of fresh aspects to explore and appreciate as well.
 
The band will be commemorating the album’s release with a performance and signing at Zia Records in Phoenix (1850 W. Camelback Rd., Phoenix, AZ 85015) on April 2nd, before heading to Europe for a month-and-a-half long tour shortly thereafter. A full U.S. summer tour is expected as well.
 
Upon lending an ear to The Tipping Point, there is one thing I can say with some surety: Authority Zero isn’t going away without causing a scuffle on their way out the door. As the lyrics to, “No Other Place,” proclaim, “There is no other place that I’d rather be than right where I’m standing with you here beside me- now there’s no other time that I’d rather know than here in this moment just watching it all explode…”
 
Well said, gents. I, for one, couldn’t agree with the sentiment more. It’s nice to see you again.
 

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