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Arrival of the Red Sun

Zonaria

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Album Review

Over the course of a decade and three albums, as of 2012's Arrival of the Red Sun, Sweden's Zonaria have obviously felt driven to determine their own creative path, and, in doing so, not worrying about fitting in with predominant heavy metal trends or long-established templates. Thing is, what they're aiming for remains unclear as of yet, even though there's no doubt as to where they're coming from. That would be death metal composed with a power or trad-metal sensibility — hence the layered, melodic orchestrations draped all over "Silent Holocaust," "Liberation Zero," and "A Lullaby for those Still Alive," plus the flashy solos and licks adorning the title track and "Gunpoint Salvation." Synthesizers also play a role in offsetting the brute violence of other cuts like "The Blood That Must be Paid" and "Face My Justice," and yet none of these increments — occasionally bordering on the progressive in spirit (see the almost symphonic intro do "My Vengeance Remains") — can really compensate for Zonaria's surprisingly forgettable riffs and less frequent tempo changes, both of which are still heavy metal's bread and butter. Furthermore, Simon Berglund's death growls are relatively run-of-the-mill — serviceable but lacking in personality (don't laugh) — and his intellectually driven lyrics are also mostly engaging, but are hardly riveting, either. All in all, one can only blame a certain je ne sais quoi for what's missing from Zonaria's musical template, because everything about the group suggests their music should amount to much more than the average sum of these parts, yet it simply doesn't. Or perhaps that's unfairly demanding of the band, since, in any case, Arrival of the Red Sun is a very solid next step in the group's steady evolution.

Arrival of the Red Sun, Zonaria
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