Zonata - Buried Alive
Century Media
Progressive Power/Melodic Metal
10 songs (50'33)
Release year: 0
Zonata, Century Media
Reviewed by Marty
Buried Alive is the third release from the Swedish Power Metal outfit Zonata. The first I heard of this band was their last release, Reality which was a pretty good Melodic Power/Speed Metal effort. With this new release, we find the band experimenting a little with new sounds, arrangements and songwriting styles. Not content to simply be another among the many bands playing this speedy style of metal (Helloween, Heavenly, Edguy, Sonata Arctica, Thunderstone etc.), they have chosen to introduce a more epic style and even some progressive keyboard-driven elements into their music.

The one thing that hits you right away is the sound of this band, pounding heavy and awesome wild double bass drumming, chunky and thick Judas Priest, Primal Fear type of guitar, Sonata Arctica style keyboards and a vocalist who sounds like a combination of older Kai Hansen and Tobias Sammet. All the elements are there for a great band. The production is crisp, solid and almost perfect for the classic Power Metal sound. I found that after a couple of listens, I really like this album. It encompasses many metal styles from straight ahead power metal to progressive metal sometimes all within the same song.

There's a heavier use of keyboards on this release giving some of the tracks a more of a Labyrinth, Kamelot or Symphony X type of sound. Often, the mid song breaks feature some cool guitar and keyboard lead trade-offs. A couple of tracks, with their more epic and operatic sound, have more of a Rhapsody or Avantasia edge to them. Some great guitar riffs are found on Buried Alive, The Mourner's Tale and Blade Of The Reaper with the latter being my personal favorite. Blade Of The Reaper has a slower heavier and choppier feel and has some of the best rhythm guitar riffs I've heard in a while. Lots of chunky parts combined with some killer lead fills and tricks make this song an album highlight. A couple of tracks, Unleashed and In The Chamber have a bigger and fatter sound to them and sound very similar to the Stratovarius sound that they achieve on their albums. Some elements of their sound on a few tracks even take on an Iron Maiden tone with the song arrangements and very "Bruce-like" vocal deliveries.

This band has an awesome tightness to their sound and really are a solid sounding band. The only fault I can find is the ever present one with bands like this, songwriting and arranging. It's not the production here, it's a good as it gets for Power Metal, it's the layout and structure of the songs. Some tracks sound very disjointed. What starts out to be a great sounding Power Metal song, will suddenly change mid-song into a more progressive tone with almost out-of-character sounding keyboard passages. Very quirky rhythmic changes and odd keyboard/synthesizer tempo changes really caught me off guard on the first listen. It's great to try to diversify your sound, but don't do it at the risk of interrupting the sometimes awesome flow of energy that comes from this band. There's some great vocal harmonies and melodies but a few tracks suffer from somewhat disappointing choruses after a great lead into the song.

I like this album mainly for it's big powerful sound. There's some great tracks that make it memorable as well. The hard part for this band on this release is that although it contains many Progressive Metal style passages, it's much heavier and may not appeal to Prog. Metal fans. On the flipside, this is very much a Power Metal album and the off-beat and sometimes bizarre keyboard interludes as well as sudden tempo changes may not appeal to strictly Power Metal fans. This band may find themselves caught in the middle, struggling to find an audience. I applaud them for their effort to try to forge an identity in today's metal scene with so many bands that sound alike, but there's still some work to be done here to push this band up the ladder of success. Musically, this band is all over the map and haven't established a unique "Zonata" sound yet. They have the sound and talent it takes and considering the young age of this band, I expect that they will someday mature into a great band and be a major force in the Power Metal scene.

Killing Songs :
Buried Alive, Blade Of The Reaper, The Mourner's Tale, A Dark Chapter
Marty quoted 72 / 100
Other albums by Zonata that we have reviewed:
Zonata - Reality reviewed by Danny and quoted 85 / 100
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