ZEROZONIC – God Damn, Better, Best (Daniel Olaisen series)

ZEROZONIC – God Damn, Better, Best (Daniel Olaisen series)

  • Rating: 4.5 / 6

On their sophomore album after the promising debut, the Norwegian thrash/groove metal troupe improves the songwriting while experimenting within and outside the genre, still mostly emulating Pantera and Lamb Of God, but now also downright lampooning nu metal for a very weird record.

In this episode of the Daniel Olaisen series we return to his second known project, the groove/thrashers, Zerozonic. There were no line up changes from the original Leo Moracchiolli on vocals, Daniel "Peisy" Olaisen on all guitars, Ole Vistnes on bass and Tommy Jackson(ville) on drums, but 4 years have passed since the debut so other changes could have reasonably been expected. And, indeed, while the debut was focused on introduction of possibilities and abilities, as any debut should, the follow up brought in the necessary improvement in songwriting.

Daniel Olaisen has always been a great riff and hook writer but here he shows his ability to dress those elements in buildings of, what else, vulgar display of power (Pantera reference very much intended). Case in point – "Humane", owing inspiration to Pantera’s "Living Through Me" (Hell’s Wrath) as much as to Killswitch Engage’s "Fixation On The Darkness", while simultaneously standing on its own, an unexpectedly alternative-sounding, but well-fitted melodic chorus to support an unpredictible almost progressive development continued somewhat on the more thrashy classic Anthrax-ian "Enter Night And Day" or the "By Demons Be Driven" Pantera choppy riffing of "Fake". The debut had a great ballad and the follow-up has a just a great one in the very melodic "No Tomorrow" while Daniel waxes Joe Satriani (his favorite solo guitarist) on the impressive yet still Pantera-ic "Instrumentalcase", all of which makes me certain that if Zerozonic wanted they’d be well within their might to give the world their own "Cowboys From Hell", or, at least "Vulgar Display Of Power". But they don’t.

The key to experiencing this album is to realize this is, to a large extent, a spoof. Do you mean to tell me Leo, having gotten Pantera’s Philip Hansen Anselmo’s style down to a science already on the debut, recorded the Michael Allan Patton (Faith No More) meets Bradley James ‘Dez’ Fafara (ex-Coal Chamber, Devildriver) insane-in-the-membrane vocals on "Symptoms" or "Alcoholic Mayhem" in all seriousness, hoping for triple platinium after Korn’s "Follow The Leader"? We are talking "King For A Day, Fool For A Lifetime", "Me Loco" (Coal Chamber), "Ball Tongue" (Korn) vocal stuff of nu metal. Yes, Zerozonic is totally lampooning nu metal here. Big Truck, I mean, big time. Did you notice "Humane" and "No Tomorrow" are the only tracks which have actual genuine verse/chorus structure? Maybe, too, they make fun of technical metal, or, perhaps, nu metal which tried hard to be technical. Who knows, really? One thing for sure. You want serious craft from Zerozonic, look to "Aftersane" and, especially, the eponymous. Here we have joy, we have fun, we have seasons in the sun, to borrow from Terry Jacks (Seasons In The Sun). Just look at the austere album cover. Can you say Pantera’s Proof 101?

Now, I know that Pantera is Olaisen’s 2nd favorite band (after Death) but the Pantera-ism, if you will, of this album can be its weekness as the first two songs and the closer seem safe and stripped down as compared to the aforementioned standouts. Either that or there’s a gradual intensification and gradual fade out at work here. Again, who knows? Then again, maybe "Humane" would not hit so hard and catch on, otherwise? Leo’s Anselmo-ic vocals, too, maybe amusing, and, in fact, hats off for getting it so right, but the excessive profanity in the otherwise excellent "Dirt" Alice In Chains meets "Sacrament" Lamb Of God "Live Today" is not necessarily the greatest aspect of Phil’s persona, hardly worth emulating per excellence.

Daniel Olaisen & Co. surprised me with "God Damn, Better, Best" since I expected something more in vein of the debut, but the songs are mostly better and his performance, as usually, superb. Zerozonic will get much better on the follow-up, though, but to see how and why you have to wait one more month.