Zonaria - Arrival of the Red Sun
Label: Listenable Records
Reviewer: Tiphany Matai (Translated By Carmina Khairallah) - 2012-10-05
Highlights: My Vengeance Remains, Face My Justice
“The Swedish have found new friends: symphonic arrangements”
Zonaria is one of those small bands who widely stand out of the Melodic Death scene, which is much overloaded and especially filled with more or less accurate clones. Since their debuts in 2007 with “Infamy and the Breed”, the Swedish have succeeded in imposing their paw in a country where Death Metal is king, doing so thanks to setting up a heavy Melo-Death with Black consonances and Apocalyptic whiffs. As “The Cancer Empire” launched a more modern musical orientation, “Arrival of the Red Sun” confirmed it.
The quartet, after separating itself from its bassist, has yet again entered the famous Abyss Studios under the guidance of Jonas Kjellgren (Scar Symmetry) for the recording of their new album, which is released a whopping four years after the previous one. Zonaria will have had put a lot of time into this and one has to admit that they have taken advantage of that precious time to polish their composition and assert not only their style but also their position. In fact, those Umea guys are certainly part of the new wave of Swedish Melodic Death, widely deriving from the bands with too much Core influences.
In a conceptual manner, “Arrival of the Red Sun” seems to be a perfectly logical sequence, since here the themes have a good smell of apocalypse, as the “red sun” is the main cause of the holocaust. No possibility of turning back, everything is supposed to burn according to the reddening pocket. Not only does the concept reach its paroxysm here, but the titles themselves are also tainted with a black and dense aura, the latter being already present in the previous albums, but spiced up by the presence of symphonic keyboards. Therefore, one will have to get used to a new notable influence in the approach towards the orchestral parts: Dimmu Borgir.
Thus the Hypocrisy/Behemoth fusion will not be the only one to be detected. Zonaria has always been able to take advantage of its influences in order not to fall into the “easy duplicate” classification, thus mixing the melodies and atmospheres of an artist with the aggressiveness and heaviness of another meanwhile adding a very individual touch that makes all the difference. On this opus, they do not derogate from the rule since songs such as “Arrival of the Red Sun” or “Liberation Zero” remind of their deathster counterparts. But from now on, one must add well present symphonic touches to the lot, propelling Zonaria towards the land of the Melodic Symphonic Death/Black bands, with arrangements worth an “In Sorte Diaboli” or an “Abrahadabra”
Since the concept is quite pessimistic, the keyboards add a lot to the ambiances by installing more or less grandiloquent touches within a heavy Melo-Death. Although the first half of the album reveals a more traditional Zonaria, more loyal to its older songs, with keyboards simply laying a somber and suffocating atmosphere (“Arrival of the Red Sun”), the second half leads Zonaria towards a more modern ensemble that is closer to the current trend (as in, Symphonic Death). The “Full Spectrum Dominance”, “My Vengeance Remains” and “Face My Justice” trio irreparably demonstrates what the Swedish are capable of. The sharp riffs meddle with a snapping voice and some often imposing Sympho, which is sometimes worrying and seldom epic and mysterious. The zonarian melodies on the guitar are accompanied by typically dimmuborgirish melodies on the keyboards, alternating passages with bucker riffs and some more pompous parts. It is impossible to escape the dark choral. That said, it’s well done.
With a slightly cleaner production and a new label, Zonaria embarks once and for all on a journey towards a more accessible and more “ear catching” orientation (if I may say so myself). Nevertheless, without being too revolutionary, they know how to vary their sayings and equilibrate the whole without doing too much, without being too simple or simplistic, which makes this “Arrival of the Red Sun” one of the best Swedish Melo-Death releases in years.