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Nothing new under the black sun - 73%

Lane, June 13th, 2012

Pivotal Rockordings have released two albums from bands who are very In Flames -influenced (sadly, the new style...). Zonaria up the ante in heaviness and metal content, as this Swedish newcomer band pays respect for the likes of their country mates Hypocrisy and Scar Symmetry.

I inserted the CD into my computer's CD player and it had the shuffle on, so the first bit of Zonaria I heard was the song 'Attending Annihilation'. My first thought was "whoa, this is pure Scar Symmetry rip-off!" But no wonder, as the song features Christian Älvestam of the band in question performing the clean vocals. But let's go back to the beginning right now. 'Infamy' is an intro with lyrics taken from by Jean-Baptiste Molière's "Misanthrope". That's what Zonaria preach about: hatred towards mankind and its stupid inventions, e.g. religions and wars they've caused. And will cause. Zonaria's metal is brutal yet at times filled with great melodies. Ill-omened riffs are backed by epic, sweeping synthesizer work. Another bands this reminds me of is fantastic Demonoid and to some extenct, Old Man's Child. The music is very rhythmical, but not in vein of modern In Flames' jump-rock, no, but the drums are just everywhere! Compositions work very well, although album could be a tad shorter, because the variety isn't that big during these 46+ minutes.

The band performs in quite a maniacal way, as drums get bashed, strings get pulled off and throat gets mangled (vocals are in vein of Hypocrisy and Dimmu Borgir). Guys are very skilled with their instruments, and this is quite a pyrotechnic display. The Per Nilsson and Jonas Kjellgren recording and mixing job is competent, as Zonaria sound brutal yet smaller details can be heard, too.

The cover artwork is typical computer work of these days, which sadly contains zero uniqueness. The music inside is a mixture of many bands, but to Zonaria's credit, they've made it work like hell. More than just a promising debut full-length album filled with fine sonics and energetic performances. If Swedish death metal with modern tinge is your choice of aural drug, why not give Zonaria a spin.

(originally written for ArchaicMetallurgy.com in 2007)

They want Infamy, but it's kind of mediocre - 70%

shatterzer0, May 24th, 2008

There seems to be something with the Pivotal Rockordings camp as they have an uncanny ear for greatness. As is witnessed again with another debut from yet another Swedish melodic death metal band. This time it is Umeå, Sweden's own Zonaria who step up to the plate to serve the helping. The album in and of itself was produced by Scar Symmetry mastermind Jonas Kjellgren and Per Nilson at Black Lounge Studio's, so you knew it was going to sound clean and very polished much like many newer melodic death metal albums have. Somewhere between the late 90's and early 2000's it seems Sweden traded in a more raw sound for more "americanized" production quality, which obviously turned off quite a few fans. Along with the production of the album being handled by supergroup Scar Symmetry, vocalist Christian Älvestam also makes a guest appearance on the record, adding a melodic chorus section to the song "Attending Annihiliation."

None the less, this album gets going from the beginning, with the intro, "Infamy." About 35 seconds into the intro, the sound of "click, click" can be heard, as in essence a gun is being loaded, and boy do they ever shoot a bullet into the heart of what has become a kind of stale genre. Kicking it into full gear immediately this quartet work very tight, almost like they have been doing this for several years. Granted singer Simon Berglund has been atleast doing Zonaria since 2001 when he was 14 and the rest of the band are all in their early 20's too, they just have that feel of a band that has put out atleast 8 or 9 records already. The use of almost symphonic death metal stylings brings an atmosphere to the album that is very fitting to the music. With it's gunshot like double bass usage, screams, clean vocals and of course death growls, the album just brings a slab of melodic death that has been missing in the genre. There is nothing really "catchy" with this album, although some purists may beg to differ, who knows.

Infamy and the Breed is a great outing by four kids from Sweden who are trying to make a mark on the world and music industry at the same time and with this album, I feel they cement themselves as a powerhouse in a genre that needs a fresh breath of air. Perhaps Pivotal Rockordings realized that and signed all these bands, or maybe it was dumb luck. Either way Zonaria make it known that they are here to brutalize your ears and this album is definitely a step in the right direction.

Descending Into Chaos!!! - 98%

black_embrace, January 21st, 2008

Humanity is doomed. The Earth shall fall. It’s apocalypse now! Well, so say the mighty Zonaria, Sweden’s melodic death metallers. Expect a brilliant intensity of brutality, dark, heavy riffs and insane drumming in their debut album, Infamy and the Breed. Twelve mind-spinning tracks will leave you descending into chaos, and reeling for more. “Pandemic Assault,” “The Armageddon Anthem,” and “Rendered in Vain” are easily their most successful songs. Comprehensible growls, catchy thrash and ominous synths all make for listenable music.

If you haven’t become one of the fallen by “Attending Annihilation,” which reaches epic proportions, you need to listen to the album again to appreciate its powerful, emotional and modern sound created by a very keyboard-driven symphonic atmosphere.They also share an uncanny resemblance to fellow Swedish band, Hypocrisy. This is nevertheless mature music-making by a promising young quartet.

Holy fucking synths, Batman! - 68%

Aetheraeon, October 4th, 2007

Zonaria is a Swedish melodic death metal band founded in 2002 by two fifteen-year-old guys, but despite it being an incredibly young band, their debut album “Infamy and the Breed” shows that they definitely have talent within the band and a bright future ahead of them. If I had been told that this band had released multiple full lengths before “Infamy and the Breed”, I would not have doubted that.

The album features proficient guitar playing and some pretty interesting ideas here and there. There is a lot of focus on melody and a sense of emotion in the songs, but even in the slower and softer portions of songs, Zonaria manages to make everything sound powerful and convincing. Every instrument sounds crisp and the production is very clear, which makes works well for an album like this. Aggression and velocity are present in decent quantities and along with some very hard-hitting heavy drumming, it brings the album to a tight whole. Vocals are slightly higher pitched and the additional clean vocals by Christian Älvestam (of Scar Symmetry fame) are a nice touch, making the songs ‘The Armageddon Anthem’ and ‘Attending Annihilation’ stand out from the rest of the album.

My main gripe with this album is the excessive use of synths. The synths are everywhere and at times they can get rather annoying. Synths are fine if they are used in moderation, but if they are not they can get rather tacky and that is what happens here on some occasions. Admittedly, the use of synths is done well in a couple of songs, though in most of them they are far too up-front and apparent, making them a distracting factor in the songs rather than adding something to the overall value.

Though I would hardly call them the “Swedish death metal’s saviours” as they are hailed on their label’s website, Zonaria deserves attention and their debut album will definitely please a decent crowd. If you like melodic death with synths, then definitely give this band a shot.

Originally written for http://www.gothtronic.com/

The lost Hypocrisy album - 80%

Noktorn, August 9th, 2007

You know, Sweden already has one Hypocrisy, so I'm not entirely sure why they need another one in the form of Zonaria.

Okay, that was mean. But come on! Zonaria is an almost exact clone of newer Hypocrisy on their 'Infamy And The Breed' debut LP. They both play similar styles of modern, epic, keyboard-driven melodic death metal, complete with bombastic, driving delivery, grandiose sense of melody, and extremely clear, bassy, powerful production. The contrasting sections of double bass and slow, atmospheric portions is the same, the slight intrusion of electronic elements is reminiscent of Hypocrisy, the instrumentation is very similar, th alternate tremolo and large, sustained power chord riffs are similar, even the vocals are almost a direct reference to Peter Tägtgren with their slightly high-pitched growls. Consider this a lost Hypocrisy album; you should put the CDs right next to each other in your collection. No one will notice the difference.

Anyway, despite how derivative it is (or maybe because of it), this is actually a pretty cool album. Modern Hypocrisy is good stuff and cloning them isn't a terrible idea; I'd much rather listen to this melodic death metal than anything out of the Gothenburg scene. If you've heard any Hypocrisy since 'The Arrival' or so, you know what you're getting: big, spacey, emotional, melodic death metal that sacrifices none of its power in its more accessible moments. Keyboards are ever present and often drive the music, though not quite as much as Hypocrisy. Drums are massive and driving, with long double bass sections and toms taking precedence over blasting. The tempo is perhaps slightly lower than your average death metal record, with the emphasis being on atmospheric mid-paced sections, complete with soaring keyboards and enormous screams from vocalist Simon Berglund. This is essentially death metal with a heavy metal aesthetic: just Iron Maiden with double bass and hatred.

The fact of the matter is that this is genuinely good music. The riffs are catchy, melodic, and powerful. The production is extremely heavy and robust all around, allowing each instrument room to breathe but never detracting from the core sound of the album. The songwriting is very solid, despite adhering to verse-chorus songwriting most of the time; all the sections transfer cleanly into each other nad present their ideas in an effective manner. This is very clean music, definitely not for the Nunslaughter addicts among us, but it's certainly got a power all its own. I find it extremely effective myself, despite preferring things noisier than this generally; it's just so damned melodic and hook-laden that you can't help but enjoy it to some degree.

Obviously this album should be at the top of the list for any Hypocrisy fan to acquire, and those that find their style of melodic death metal distasteful should stay far away. But the majority of metalheads will likely find this breed appealing, with its mature, tasteful approach to death metal and powerful sense of atmosphere and melody. While it's enormously derivative, it's also pretty damned good. Give it a try.

(Originally written for www.vampire-magazine.com)