The Cancer Empire

I really wanted to like this, and at first I did, or at least thought I did. It’s not that The Cancer Empire is a bad album, but just kinda plain and rather safe. These types of reviews are always the hardest to write – not bad but not particularly good, these middle of the road discs leave a person reaching for things to criticize and praise when there’s not really much there to do so with.

The Cancer Empire is the young Swedish group’s second album and first for Century Media, which has afforded them the luxury of an ultra-slick Fredrick Nordstrom production which more or less sterilizes their sound. The vocals are out front, the bass is buried, and the kick drum is lacking the punch it needs to really hammer all that double bass and blasts home. It all adds up to an easily digestible album, loaded with melody, but lacking anything to make it identifiable as Zonaria.

Their sound is akin to a more Gothenburg inspired Dimmu Borgir, complete with keys used in an atmospheric/symphonic role that I’d imagine is supposed to give it an eerie or haunting quality, but once again the production trumps this effect. The songs tend to run together and sound samey, as they all pretty much employ the same tempo, and repeat the same tricks. Heavier, double bass/blasting parts are alternated with calmer and subdued passages song after song with melody and atomospherics nearly always present. Vocally, Simon Berglund sits somewhere between the realms of black and death metal, very rarely wavering, though he injects some “spooky” clean vocals on occasion, and in several places the vocals have been heavily layered to give a gang impression.

Zonaria show some promise here, and considering their young age, there’s plenty of time to hone in their skills and deliver something truly worthwhile. They should work to vary their approach some and try out something a tad more adventurous, and for Dio’s sake, leave some fucking grit and nastiness in there instead of castrating it with a super clean production. At best, The Cancer Empire would be decent background music for a gathering of friends drinking and bullshitting.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Larry "Staylow" Owens
April 26th, 2009


  1. Commented by: Stiffy

    wanted to like this as well. Same with their first release. Just does nothing for me. No really catchy parts. Just a huge production. Plus this is more evil than melodic.

  2. Commented by: Staylow

    I think this attempts to be evil, but comes up short, stifled by the production. It sounds like Evil passing out candy canes to little kids with a smile. Fuck, I should’ve put that in the review.

  3. Commented by: ceno

    I only hears it twice and there was something I really liked, but I definitely wasn’t blown away. I might give it another spin to shape my opinion. Nice review, Larry.

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