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Scandinavia meets USA on this groove metal album - 68%

Lane, February 9th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2017, CD, Independent (Digipak)

Guitarist Daniel Olaisen, known from extreme metal bands Scariot and Blood Red Throne, and also from Satyricon's live line-up, decided to start a bit different band back in 2004. So Zerozonic was born, and their craft was groovy thrash metal. Since 2007 the band have released four full-length albums.

If you're still reading this article, you probably enjoy listening to 1990s groove metal movement, which was started in USA by such bands as Pantera, Machine Head, Prong and Fear Factory. There's nothing wrong with that. There was some good shit. A bit later we got metalcore, but that's another story...

One thing Zerozonic do not manage in, or don't want to do so, is bringing in something new into this genre. Whereas Konkhra and even old school thrash metal bands like Testament and Anthrax evolved into groove machines (in both good and bad ways) in late 1990s. The band's Nordic roots can be heard in The Haunted, Soilwork and Arch Enemy influences. So melodic death metal is another ingredient for Zerozonic. However, there are no real traits which would make Zerozonic a cornerstone band in any noticeably way; they aren't that unique despite all genre-coupling.

This, however, does not mean that the latest Zerozonic album couldn't entertain even the most hardened fan of groove metal, no. This self-titled platter is the most diverse and catchiest one from the band to date. Two first albums, 'Dead on Arrival' and 'God Damn, Better, Best' (respectively released in 2007 & 2010) were closer to later Pantera style in many ways. Anyway, this legendary yet divisive band is no more, and therefore I tend to enjoy well done Pantera worship, thank you. But back to this album.

'It Never Dies' starts with US style groove metal tornado. Sharp yet heavy-handed riffing, loads of double bass drumming, massive bass guitar tone and shriek/growl/grunt throat-abuse. On 'Get Me Back' the Swedish influences start to emerge. 'Pushed away' presents slower songwriting into the game as well as Scandinavian melancholy. Talking about slower songs, 'I Walk away' borders on angry-yet-sentient style US stuff on its calmer parts; something Five Fingers Death Punch or maybe Nickelback could put out, I presume. I could live without this stuff, to tell the truth, but the song has some great parts, too. 'Instrumentalis' showcases the band's darker thrash side, as it's close to Anthrax's 'Persistence of Time' era, at other times Forbidden's 'Twisted into Form' (both 1990), and features fine, melodic guitar work too. Definitely the highlight of this two-sided album for me.

The riffs stay above average level, and contain some goodies, too. The guitar tone is powerful and rough, and is strengthen by heavy-handed playing. The lead guitar works as an opposite, presenting some tasty stuff. A few bits of non-distorted guitar can be heard, too. Some background keyboards are heard. The drumming, by a session guy, is tight and even a bit innovative, twisting at times. The drums do not sound triggered. Add a clear and heavy production; gotta love 'em nicely chiming cymbals! It's backed by lovely rumbling bass guitar.

About the vocals, then; ex-throat Leo Moracchiolli (ex-Lowdown) sounded close to Phil Anselmo (ex-Pantera, Down etc.). People may know him from his many, many cover songs he has put on Youtube. I think this also may introduce these people to Zerozonic. Any publicity is good publicity, right? Leo was a bit of a joker, so Arvid Tjelta is a right kind of a vocalist to molest his throat (in many ways, as mentioned before) for the band today. Clean vocals remind of Suicidal Tendencies' Mike Muir, in all their distinctiveness, and possibly irksomeness. Another kind of clean vocals are in vein of Corey Tyler. I should also mentioned them moments of rapping, which always are a divider of opinions. Muir-ing, Corey-ing and rapping mostly happen on 'The Other Kind' and 'I Walk away', so they aren't all around the album.

Zerozonic are a convincing groove metal band, even though incorporating some pop elements in is never a wise decision, if you want to keep metal people in your fan base (yeah, a bit exaggerated statement, perhaps; there are really open-minded folks, of course). Okay, these pop-elements are just few, and not granting the band a pop-metal stamp, not even close. If you are looking for working groove metal with momentary Scandinavian blues, then inspect this.

(Originally written for