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Zonaria - "Infamy and the Breed" (CD)

Zonaria - "Infamy and the Breed" CD cover image

"Infamy and the Breed" track listing:

1. Infamy (1:38)
2. The Last Endeavour (3:26)
3. Pandemic Assault (3:48)
4. The Armageddon Anthem (3:43)
5. Rendered in Vain (4:17)
6. Image of Myself (4:20)
7. Evolution Overdose (4:02)
8. Attending Annihilation (3:58)
9. Descend into Chaos (3:42)
10. Ravage the Breed (3:34)
11. The Black Omen (4:54)
12. Everything is Wasteland (4:45)

Reviewed by on June 24, 2010

"While this album definitely isn’t a bad one, it by no means is one that I would call memorable. "

When it comes to melodic death metal, Sweden seems to be the hub of all the greats. Zonaria is a band that proves that being from Sweden alone isn’t enough to make one legendary. “Infamy and the Breed” definitely sounds like a typical melodic death metal album. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, Zonaria don’t do much to set themselves apart. While this album definitely isn’t a bad one, it by no means is one that I would call memorable.

This album, after a fashion, reminds me of early Kalmah (Finnish, I know, but close enough). With leads and solos that nearly register on the power metal scale and synths that are mostly utilized to a non-tacky effect, sections of “Infamy and the Breed” ring rather familiar in my ears. The biggest difference I hear is that Zonaria incorporates more of a blackened sound into most of their music that you don’t always hear in the melo-death genre. This works well for the most part. The production quality is great on this album: the vocals are just rough enough to be harsh and the instruments are just sharp enough, but still heavy. Mostly everything is mixed very well. Unfortunately, these factors are pretty secondary to the problems with this album.

For the most part, the major riffing on this album is pretty mediocre. The riffs they use aren’t bad and they’re certainly not the best I’ve ever heard and the guitar work is definitely well done. However, the fact remains that they use them over and over again ad nauseam. I’m fairly certain that Zonaria even goes to the point of recycling their riffs between songs. It seems “Infamy and the Breed” was meant to have somewhat of an epic feel to it. Zonaria pulls it off…sort of.

There definitely are epic sections (examples include "Rendered in Vain" and "Evolution Overdose"), but the fact that the song structures don’t really vary throughout each song really pulls away from this effect. Besides all of this, Zonaria somewhat makes up for the mediocrity of the music by playing some soaring leads and blistering solos, but just when it gets good, they cut it off for another pointless chorus. Some songs seem a little directionless as well (Christian Älvestam’s clean vocals, for example, suddenly appearing on "Attending Annihilation" sound very out of place).

I related this band to Kalmah, and while there definitely is a bit of a similarity, I think it’s useful to note the difference between a band like Kalmah (who, in my opinion, continuously put out great albums) and Zonaria. Kalmah’s songs consist, for the most part, of great compositional elements that make their albums so cohesive and epic. Zonaria is lacking that for sure. The melody they add works really well and I found the solos and leads very enjoyable. If Zonaria would do more to incorporate these elements into general song structure, I think their music would be a lot less redundant and would rate with some of melodic death metal’s legends.

Highs: The melodic leads and blackened bits work well.

Lows: Redundant and not solid compositionally.

Bottom line: Though Zonaria may be contemporaries of Sweden's greats, there is better melodic death metal to be found.

Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls
2.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)