Monday, August 13, 2012

Zero Degree - The Storm and the Silence

I was recently introduced to Zero Degree, a six-piece melodic death metal band from Germany, by way of their independently released 2010 full-length debut Surreal World. I immediately loved their sound, and a quick search revealed that they put out this new EP just last month. It turns out that three of the four tracks are re-released from Surreal World, so up front I should say that just getting the album is a better course of action.

Remember the days when melodic death metal was still actual death metal? Well these guys clearly do, because they've managed to inject a now-uncommon level of savagery into the music while still keeping a firm grip on melody. The triple guitars allow them to really pile a lot of meat into the body of each track, with effective layering that holds it all together nicely. There are leads that sound like they could have come from The Jester Race, and a crunch underneath that reminds you of what the sub-genre once was. The drums, as is typical for melodeath, are more about effective pacing and punctuation than really pounding on you, but they still pack some punch. The vocals may well be my favorite aspect of the music, as they really find a sweet spot in terms of harshness, tone, and coherence.

The tracks flow together nicely, featuring their own individual characters but functioning well as part of the whole. They run pretty uniform lengths of about five minutes each, putting the EP at about twenty minutes total. The material is mostly mid-paced, though it has slightly faster or slower moments.

I personally love melodic death metal when it's done right, and this is everything that is best about the style. I have nothing negative to say about the music, though as I noted above I'd highly recommend the full album from 2010 if you're looking to buy, since it has most of what you can get on the EP, plus another eight songs (well, seven and an intro).

Grade: A (album), B+ (EP)
Fantastic melodic death metal, I only rank the EP lower due to the lack of new material.

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