With a blend of doom, death and black metal that the band have christened “catatonic metal”, Finland's Antagonist Zero set out to bring the misery with their latest EP, 'No Tears'. Stylistically they have a lot in common with acts such as Swallow The Sun, Doom:Vs, Antimatter, Katatonia and Opeth with a deep dark ambiance just beneath their aggressive metal exterior. It's slow, heavy, atmospheric, but it is by no means catatonic music. Just good heavy doom the way that only Finland seems to be able to produce.
'No Tears' is a strong nine-minute song with a great riff, subtle melodies, a nice balance of vocal styles and a nice cavernous sound that is perfectly suited for this time of year. The next track, 'Profound Oblivion' has a bit more of a defined death doom sound with its nice chugging pace and excellent lead guitars that gives way to a lighter melodic centre before bringing the heaviness back in. The third original track 'Suru' is a very nice slow track with a nice balance of light and dark, heavy and soft with a great vocal performance in their native tongue to boot.
The fourth track is a cover of Jenni Vartiainen's 'Missä Muruseni On' which originally quite a soft symphonic meets folk rock piece, but given a really nice doom make over that carries on nicely from the previous song. The final song, 'The Lachrymal Sleep' is of course a Doom:Vs cover, and a fairly straight one at that. Which is a shame as these guys have a real knack for playing soft and heavy elements so a more ambient rendition of this would have been cool, but it's still well executed in its current form.
The production is pretty spot on with a nice spacious feel to the mix that lets the guitars and vocals ring out and create a massive sense of space. It is easily to the standard that modern metal should be held to and can easily stand shoulder to shoulder with recent releases from their countrymen Swallow The Sun.
Antagonist Zero might be relative newcomers with only an EP and one full-length album to their name prior to this release. But with 'No Tears' they have used their time in a considered way that makes you take notice. Each track hits hard, and despite the lengths involved, the intricate musicianship, strong songwriting and engaging vocal performances can't fail to hook you.