Sound — 8
I've been giving this album a lot of attention over the past week and my first impression was Dimmu Borgir without ICS Vortex. But that's not accurate at all (first impressions, obviously) as 'The Cancer Empire' is very different. Zonaria play a hybrid of Blackened death metal and melodic black metal which is some of the heaviest black metal that's been around (as you can tell from listening to BM's usual fast speed and overall high pitch first). Zonaria has an ear for balancing their light melodies and heavy crushing riffs to a good equilibrium and it shows in many songs on the album such as 'The Icon and the Faceless' and 'Contra Mundum' (which is also Neo-classically influenced). The production quality is exceptional, the guitars are clear cut and the keyboard backdrops don't impose in the mix with the only complaint being the vocals sounding a little out of balance. Along with Behemoth, Zonaria are leading the way with crushing and well-crafted Blackened Death metal.
Lyrics — 7
As with most extreme metal, vocals are solely focused on mid-range growls. Simon Berglund delivers them with enthusiasm and with a power behind each syllable that fits the style of music perfectly. Lyrics are focused around the theme of 'The Cancer Empire' to quote the vocalist: ''The Cancer Empire' refers to a nation that infects the world around it by spreading lies and deceit in order to dominate. For us it has a realistic reflection on the world today.' The song lyrics reflect this theme well, such as in 'At War with the Inferior' which depicts the domination and annihilation aspect of the album theme.
Overall Impression — 8
After listening to Zonaria, it's good to see that black/death is evolving from more than just a new trend and becoming a firm genre amongst extreme music. I consider Zonaria among the ranks of Behemoth and Zyklon which have similar (but slightly different) styles of music and lack the punctuated melody that Zonaria have. Songs to listen for: 'Crowning King Cancer' 'Slaughter is Passion' 'Contra Mundum' 'At War With The Inferior' 'Damnation dressed in flesh' and the Icon and The Faceless'. I recommend The Cancer Empire' for any metal fan as long as you like it heavy.