Title: The Zornheim Sleep Experiment
Label: Noble Demon
Release date: 22 October 2021
Format reviewed: High-quality Digital Recording
For those who are familiar with Zornheym, you know what this band is about in their previous album: tales from the asylum, insane stories coming out of insane minds, all wrapped with a fantastic Symphonic Black/Death Metal style done by really talented musicians. If you didn’t know about this band, I highly encourage you to start listening to their music and probably you’ll understand my enthusiasm. Yes, I’m a fan since I first listened to their previous work and was highly excited about “The Zornheim Sleep Experiment” ‘cause these guys did it so great with their debut that I was eager to check if they could continue at such a high level. And let me assure you they do…
But let’s go with the review. This album starts where things ended in the previous one, “Where Hatred Dwells and Darkness Reigns”: the first riff on “Corpus Vile” is the acoustic outro of “Hestia”. Ahh that sounds promising… And not only this. Right from the start I can appreciate all the things I love about Zornheym: fantastic guitar riffs along with energic drumming, the symphonic elements (keyboards, choruses), and the awesome different kind of vocals provided by Bendler, oh yes this guy can do sick growls and a second after he is singing clear with a beautiful and operatic voice… damn good. Just like a Dr Jeckyll and Mr Hyde thing.
Musically, this is a great exhibition of how symphonic stuff can be mixed with extreme metal and the result be so powerful and stunning. Of course there’s a bunch of skilled musicians here, let me introduce you the band’s lineup:
Zorn (Tomas Nilsson) at lead, rhythm and acoustic guitars.
Bendler (Richard Bendler) at lead and backing vocals.
Scucca (Alan McCahey) at rhythm and acoustic guitars, double bass and chants.
Steve Joakim at drums & percussion.
Synths and samples are done by Zorn and Scucca.
And there’s a lot more people behind this, in the chorus and the string section (violin, viola and cello). All this makes the album a fantastic experience.
The guitar solos are outstanding, just listen to “Keep the Devil Away” and tell me if that solo near the end of the song is not haunting you like it’s doing to me! The classical music training of Zorn is more than evident here, with that specific sound powered by the use of some string instruments. Mixing that with Extreme Metal is simply a perfect combination! The classical references can be also noticed in “Corpus Vile”, by the use of synth with the sound of a harpsichord and those fantastic choruses. Which, in contrast with the wicked vocals of Bendler, provides that song a totally epic feel. Gives me chills!
There are a lot of variations all along the songs; at a particular moment you are being attacked by the most aggressive growls, evil guitar riffs and fast drums (talking about drums… is that a man or a machine, in “Slumber Comes in Time”?? Ohh how I love that speed!), and in no time your ears are soothed by beautiful and calm choruses. That’s the magic that resides in this album: the ability of these guys to turn extreme metal into a beautiful thing, with plenty of melodies and a bombastic sound. Listen to “Dead Silence” and try not to fall in love with that music, and with the fantastic vocal performance… You cannot simply appreciate all the details only by listening to it a few times, even doing it again and again you feel the need to listen even more, trying to catch everything.
This album is not only about the music, it’s also about the lyrics: this is a concept album about an insane experiment done by Dr Bettelheim with some patients at the asylum, keeping them awake in order to check if the sleep privacy can unleash some kind of inner demons and make those people succumb to them… and to see the consequences. That’s wicked enough, isn’t it? So, the songs in the album tell us this story, every track is a piece of the whole cake, first presenting the experiment and as the album progresses, so does the certainty that it can’t end in a good way at all. You can even “smell” the drama at some points… I think it’s interesting to catch the lyrics in order to totally appreciate this massive work. It’s a really theatrical masterpiece!
The album was recorded, mixed and mastered at Wing Studios by Sverker Widgren, and the fantastic artwork was done by the Portuguese illustrator Pedro Sena “Lordigan”, as in their debut “Where Hatred Dwells…” And well, now that you have all the information and have read my words about it, the only remaining thing is that you go for this album and check by yourself how fantastic it is. One of the albums of the year for me, with no doubt. It deserves 9,5/10 Sílvia
9,5/10 Epic Storm
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