Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Review: Zephyra - First Blood (2012)

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First Blood

Zephyra - First Blood
First Blood, while an iconic anti-authority film, is in this case the title of the debut EP from Swedish metal outfit Zephyra. Formed in 2009 by the husband and wife team of Tony and Åsa Netterbrant (guitars and vocals, respectively) along with Henrik Willman (guitars), and rounded out by Fredrik Johansson (drums) and Tobias Oja (bass), Zephyra is a band with a heavy sound that straddles the fence between metal and rock. Though only five songs and 23 minutes long, First Blood displays Zephyra's ability to cleanly incorporate multiple influences into their core sound.

"Undone", the heaviest track on the EP, gets First Blood off to a rumbling start with a backbone of chunky riffs and swirling leads. The riff structure here and throughout First Blood is fairly simplistic, with Tony and Henrik emphasizing heft over flash and dropping in an occasional breakdown. The leads and solos tend to compliment the basic riffs, however, with a bit of a swirling, almost anthemic quality to them - those on "Are You Really Blessed" being the most interesting.

Behind the mic, Åsa works with a predominantly clean style, though at times she tosses in a bit of a snarl or growl for a bit more weight. "Loyalty", which is a bit of a power ballad in terms of tempo and pacing, finds Åsa working the upper limits of her range and incorporating some multi-tracked whispers for effect. Tony gets in on the vocal duties as well, his contributions buried rather deep in the mix and bringing to mind a style favored by Lacuna Coil. Åsa's vocal harmonies on "Inside Revealed" - also a ballad-like track - mix well with the soft, melodic guitar leads to result in another album highlight. The final track, an acoustic (and live) version of "Are You Really Blessed" that sounds as if it would fit in well on a Blackmore's Night album, provides Åsa's strongest performance and gives First Blood a folkish finish.

Zephyra show real promise to be able to take their melodic rock/metal hybrid to the next level by adding more complexity to their songs and cleaning up the production a bit. First Blood is a good start.

Track Listing
3Are You Really Blessed5:37
4Inside Revealed5:06
5Are You Really Blessed [Live]4:41
Total Runtime23:43

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