When I first received “Infamy And The Breed” from a friend I was a little cautious. Who wouldn’t be of a debut album from a young band that plays Melodic Death Metal? It seems like I’ve had way too many disappointments than surprises from that scenario in the last few years. These bands claim to play Melodic Death Metal and then don’t, or ones that are way too immature in their song writing and performance to really be releasing an album so early. But not ZONARIA. ZONARIA are a different breed of modern Melodic Death Metal that hit more in the vein of newer HYPOCRISY than newer IN FLAMES. And their debut album, “Infamy And The Breed”, is forceful, epic, and magically brutal.
On first listen, many of the songs may sound very similar, partially because the production isn’t the cleanest one out there and partially because the band like to mix their music loud. But upon repeated listenings (say two or three) all the little melodies and catchy riffs begin to come to focus and one begins to realize that this band has a lot of layers to their music.
Right away one is going to notice the heavy driven keyboards that ZONARIA likes to use throughout the album. Many times they really pave the path for the song structure and considering that the band originally started out as a Power Metal band this doesn’t seem all that out of the ordinary. The epic balance of keys and guitars is something that can be quite hard for a Death Metal band to pull off but ZONARIA pull it off extraordinarily well. The keys add a lot of the melody to the more intense sections and are great compliments to the guitar melodies.
In fact, the guitars cross between a Black Metal and Death Metal structures quite often. It’s a nice and refreshing mix that many bands try and fail at. ZONARIA once again overshoot many of their elders in the songwriting and performance. The guitar melodies get pushed towards the back from the sheer force of their songwriting but they are there and they are awesome. The guitar solos are also not of focus much of the time but every once in a while a good solo will tear through your speakers and shock you out of the trance of the hypnotic and intense rhythm section. Guitarists, Simon Berglund and Emil Nyström have a great chemistry of trading riffs that make many older bands seem like the inexperienced ones.
And for those of you that believe soft vocals are the sign of the coming apocalypse than don’t be too afraid of “Infamy And The Breed”. Vocalist, Simon Berglund growls and gargles his way through most of the album and the ‘cleaner’ vocals that do appear on a few tracks are mostly backing vocals and they aren’t heavily used. It’s also helpful in the song “Attending Annihilation” when SCAR SYMMETRY vocalist, Christian Älvestam does the singing. His appearance is not only awesome but it gives some great credit to this band.
Like I mentioned earlier, ZONARIA could easily rise to the top of the ranks in the Melodic Death Metal world if not the entire Metal community. If they continue to grow as a band and in their writing…it could be hard to stop these young Metalheads.
Songs to check out: “The Last Endeavor”, “The Armageddon Anthem”, “Attending Annihilation”.
(Online February 12, 2008)