Zonaria
Arrival of the Red Sun

With their third album on as many labels, Sweden’s Zonaria are if anything, anything persistent and consistent. Their previous albums released on Pivotal Recordings (2007s Infamy and the Breed) and then Nuclear Blast  (2009s The Cancer Empire) respectively were a melding  of mildly futuristic  melodic death metal glossed over with Dimmu Borgir symphonics and that has not changed on album number three, this time on Listenable Records.

And while the possibility of Hypocrisy styled riffage (just listen to second track “Silent Holocaust”) and polish meets epic Dimmu Borgir-isms seems fantastic on paper, as with their first two records, the result is solid but hardly spectacular being the very epitome of musical MSG/Chinese food: While the album is playing I’m enjoying myself with the robust production  and crunchy, synth laden riffs. But when the album is over I can’t recall a single riff or moment or really identify what band I might have been rocking out too, and that’s an issue that plagued the first two releases.

Even with what appears to be an improved sense of dynamics and song writing, there’s still just a sense that the album is just ‘there’ and a shade shallow despite a number of positive elements such as the production and lavish keys. I’ll readily admit I rather enjoyed the stern chug of the aforementioned “Silent Holocaust”, the solos and march in “Liberation Zero”, and catchy crunch of “Desert Storms”. But that’s 3 songs from 10 (the 11th song is a fun little cover of Imperiet‘s “CC Cowboy”) that I had some sort of response too, that means 8 songs didn’t really register with me, even with the same overall consistent .solid approach and sound.

That’s not to say you should avoid Zonaria or this release, as there are some positive things that the more casual or easily satiated metal listener would enjoy as a quick fix or background music, but in a year that saw such an amazing level of depth and quality to its metal releases, Arrival of the Red Sun was destined to just sort of hang about with little or no fanfare and deservedly so. That being said, the marked improvement is noted and should the band continue this gradual improvement, by album number 5 or 6 they might make a dent in the metal world. But as of now they seem to be destined to be little more than a label hopping middle tier band playing sound that peaked in 2008.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by E. Thomas
January 28th, 2013

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