|Review: Zonata - Reality|
Label: Century Media
Year released: 2001
Genre: Power Metal
Review online: September 30, 2010
Reviewed by: Bruce Dragonchaser
Rated 4.4/5 (88%) (15 Votes)
In the booklet of this CD, an artwork credit is ascribed to 'the living legend Derek Riggs'. That's all you need to know about this album; how many bands have had the pleasure of the famous Maiden inker on their sleeves? Only a handful, and great artists all. Sweden's Zonata are no exception, and with their 2001 sophomore effort, they took their classically trained sound to a whole new level of exploration, producing one of the best Power Metal albums of all time.
A heavy statement, I'm sure, but this collection of songs is one of the finest I've come across, and having listened to it for a many a year, it has never dulled, only become brighter with age and experience. With a perfect production, the band stripped themselves down to a tight quartet to create Reality, an album that is progressive in the truest sense, moving forward with every beat without wallowing in shameless musical wankery, taking the listener on a wild, unpredictable ride. Every single song on here is wonderfully presented, from the superior performances of Johannes Nyberg on the piano (or his fantastic vocals, for that matter), his brother, John, on the guitars, or even Mikael Hornqvist behind the kit; to the speed at which they progress from kick-ass metal riffs to flourishing classical interludes that never seem high-brow or intellectual. As usual, their mad funfair of melodic Power Metal has a strange, otherworldly feel to it, and every song is different, whilst keeping the same thematic threads running through the album. Gamma Ray could only dream about this level of brilliance, and in fact, Zonata, at this moment in their career, were light-years ahead of almost every band on the circuit; just nobody knew about it. It's a massive shame, as they split after the release of their third album, when they were just getting started. Who knows what they could've gone on to create had they remained?
As previously mentioned, every track here is magnificent, with each note perfectly in place, every arrangement pushing the songs just far enough, and the melodies giving the madness its accessibility. Every Power Metaller needs to hear this album; it is one of the unsung heroes of the scene, one that will blow your mind given the chance, and with songs like "Divided We Stand", "Dimension Of Freedom", "Illusion Of Madness" and even the re-recorded demo track "Gate Of Fear" all standing tall amongst so much virtuosity, it would be a crime if this continued to go unheard. A blind purchase if I ever saw one.
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