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Mile Marker Zero - The Fifth Row

Mile Marker Zero
The Fifth Row
by Katharine Hassett at 09 April 2018, 10:28 PM

Hailing from Connecticut and born out of the Western Connecticut University, MILE MARKER ZERO is a progressive rock group, known for their blend of bands like RUSH, A PERFECT CIRCLE, and PORCUPINE TREE. They formed in 2005 when brothers Dave and Doug Alley met a few other musicians at the aforementioned University’s school of music and began writing their first EP, "The Haunted." A couple years later, the band was invited by Michael Birnbaum and Chris Bittner (COHEED AND CAMBRIA, RICH ROBINSON OF THE BLACK CROWS, BAD BRAINS) to record in Woodstock, New York at Applehead Recording studios, where they would perfect their sound. From here, they released their first full length, a self titled album that received universal praise and gained the attention of game developer Harmonix, resulting in their song "A Thousand Nights" to be released on the video game Rock Band for Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 game consoles, which could arguably have helped them gain some traction in the progressive scene.

Fast-forward to 2018 and we are graced with the quintets second full length, "The Fifth Row," the title referencing the fifth row of the chessboard, a theory used by futurists arguing that technology is advancing so rapidly that it is nearly impossible to predict the coming days. So already we see this release is quite conceptual and upon listening, I think you will agree. The opening track "Source Code," with it's samples from various news stations and politicians makes it clear that this album is intended to make a statement. From the very start, "2001," with its heavy emphasis on synthesizers and intense guitar solos calls to mind none other than DREAM THEATER. Next up is the seven-minute epic, "Digital Warrior," which tones it down a little with more soothing guitars and a calmer vocal delivery but quickly picks itself up and back down again, making it a worthy emotional roller coaster.

In comes one of the heaviest tracks "Building A Machine," with distorted guitars and layered, harmonic vocals. The guitar work on this track definitely resembles that of PORCUPINE TREE, and it's a very satisfying thing combined with well executed gang-shouts. The following track, "Victory" has a similar feel with the signature prog-rock synth we all know and love. "Propaganda," an obviously politically charged song, is an anti-war lullaby that I absolutely adore, with some of the best lyrics on the album. Instrumentally, it could be compared to the likes of COHEED AND CAMBRIA.

Reaching the latter part of the album, "2020" is a clear reprisal of the albums opener, "2001," containing much of the same material. "Age of Jason" is another very heavy song, a sonic beatdown, with easily the best riffage on the album, making it a very fulfilling penultimate track. The prog-epic ends with the song, "Collective," one of the most emotional songs on the album, bringing all the concepts together in one melancholic seven minutes. One can't help but get a little teary-eyed by the romantic undertones of the the song, lamenting on "the cusp of infinity," and the "eve of our surrender." A fitting close to an album about the rapid advancement of technology and it's effects on humanity. Overall it is a very well put together album by some very talented musicians, but if you are well-versed in progressive rock, you will find much of the same things here.

Songwriting: 8
Originality: 7
Memorability: 8
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. Source Code
2. 2001
3. Digital Warrior
4. The Architect
5. Building A Machine
6. Victory
7. JCN
8. Middle Game
9. Propaganda
10. Sacred Geometry
11. Clarity
12. UI
13. 2020
14. Age of Jason
15. Collective
Dave Alley - Vocals
Mark Focarile - Piano/Keyboards
John Tuohy - Guitar
Tim Rykosky - Bass
Doug Alley - Drums
Record Label: Independent


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Edited 03 February 2023

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