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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