Here we have an album which if in the mind to, you could pick at and suggest a few deficiencies but there is no escaping it is also one compelling and enjoyable proposition. The release in question is Euharmonic Elevation, the second album from rock/metal band Zoner. That is a simple description for a proposition with a sound which draws on a myriad of styles and flavours in its almost deranged invention. Release and band are a one of a kind, though each also draws on open inspirations which we will come to shortly. It all results in a collection of songs which hold few major surprises yet are one big and riveting surprise.
Zoner is the solo project of Antonis Demetriou, a musician and songwriter hailing from Nicosia, Cyprus. His music as mentioned is bred from a vast array of spices across numerous decades, and his band as described by Demetriou himself, “a rock/metal band with influences ranging from ‘ABBA to Zappa’ via all the VERY best in pop, rock, prog, punk, funk, disco, hard, heavy and thrash!” 2012 saw the release of debut album Spectraphonic Deviation, and now the artist returns with its successor, again a self-released, recorded, and produced offering, deserving of intrigued attention.
As opening track In the Name of Creativity establishes itself in ears, the first thing with captivates about the sound is its strange similarity to Bill Nelson, well his Red Noise guise certainly. Zoner is a more voracious and heavier proposition but from vocals to the sonic invention, there is a definite if coincidental feel of the ex-Be Bop Deluxe man to proceedings. The first track strides with muscular rhythms and stirring riffs from its initial sonic invitation, swiftly settling into a heavy rock and classic metal fusion. Vocally Demetriou is engaging and though he is arguably not a natural vocalist, any weaker moments are more than compensated by his inventive expression. The song itself continues on to explore new progressive and melodic textures, its technical intricacies as potent as the simplicity in which everything successfully fits together.
The enjoyable start is swiftly continued by the stronger lures of Hail Rock ‘n’ Roll, a rock ‘n’ pop romp living up to its title with hook laden riffs and an equally addictive bassline. Thumping beats only add to the contagious drama whilst the swing of the song forms the lead into a catchy chorus as flirtatious as the intrigue wrapped guitar work. Its finale of persistent title chants is irresistible and sets ears and imagination up nicely for the melodic elegance and croon of Patience of a Saint. A smouldering landscape of sonic enterprise, the song is an easily endearing encounter. The vocals are similarly mellow and it all makes for a partly mesmeric offering until it unlocks its heart of classic rock tenacity. It loses some of its grip from this point but still holds attention with unpredictable twists and keys sculpted tempting.
Politics of Modern Love steps in next and soon steals top honours on the album. The song makes a low key start, coaxing the listener gently before revealing a predatory prowl of riffs and dark toned vocals. It is a transfixing and thrilling turn, a post punk/ experimental adventure with a minimalistic air leading to a full blaze of striking imagination and creative exploration.
Both A Wasted Life and Are You the One keep ears and appetite satisfied, the first again bringing an eighties new wave/ post punk tempting to its theatrical hard rock canvas. As its predecessor, the track is riveting scenery of pungent sonic interplay and tenacious enterprise, an enthralling dance with recognisable flavours and expectations defeating invention. Its successor is equally unpredictable but does not have the same success with personal tastes. At times it is a stirring and invigorating exploit but in other moments, especially its start, leaves emotions flat. When it does hit the mark though, primarily when it unleashes its aggression, the song is a feisty enjoyment ending on a much loftier peak then where it started.
Early thoughts and expectations of The Sabbath Waltz arising from its name alone are soon confirmed by its muscular riffs and heavily landed rhythms. It is heavy metal with a sinister tang and melodic flaming, but again reaping spices from previous decade in its colourful web of sound and creative thought. Imposingly magnetic, the track crawls over senses and psyche, leaving another lingering lure easy to want to hear more of.
The closing Turning Point of No Return is an acoustic crafted ballad with Latin bred drama and character, another which misses our appetite but easy to see being a rich pleasure for others. It is a decent end to a release which keeps luring attention back its way. It has shortcomings; the production in certain areas shallow and not helping vocals at times but Demetriou himself has admitted that he is not really an engineer/producer but handles these tasks out of necessity. It cannot defuse the core quality, passion, and invention of the music and songs though. There are also other elements which at times you might wish for something different or for them to be tweaked but it is all relative to taste and again only increases the weight of the potential of the artist and sound, suggesting that given the chance to record with the right people and circumstances, Zoner might just have something very special lurking inside.
Euharmonic Elevation is available now on CD and across most digital stores.
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