Featuring an ex-member of Dark Funeral, Zornheym present us with a symphonic monster of black/death/heavy/extreme metal. Yes, a lot of genres are thrown into this one, to great effect. The Zornheim Sleep Experiment contains 37 minutes of the stuff, and it’s a damn good listen.
Dimmu Borgir and Cradle of Filth are the obvious reference points for something like this. Also throw in some Therion and a touch of Behemoth, and you’ll have a decent idea of where The Zornheim Sleep Experiment is coming from. The band’s mix of black, death, and heavy metal is a compelling one. It’s also unexpectedly fun. The songs are catchy, moreish, and go down smoothly like the treat that they are.
The symphonic elements are well-realised, by an actual string quartet, no less. Luscious orchestration and rich choirs are fully embedded in the songs, rather than acting as an ostentatious afterthought as can sometimes seem like the case with some bands whose ambition gets the better of them. Melodies are a prominent part of Zornheym’s sound, and the band put them to good use. The leads are incorporated well into the rest of the music, and I also like the guitar solos that are used.
The songwriting is first rate, bringing all of the various influences that have gone into this album together with skill and grace. The band also know a good riff when they shove one down your throat.
The vocals are impressive, especially as they seem to be primarily delivered by just one person, for the most part. He can be growling or screaming one moment, and then belting out clean operatic singing the next. This simple description doesn’t really do the range of vocal performances across this album justice though. Coupled with the ambitious music, there’s clearly a strong theatrical streak in Zornheym.
The album has a treasure trove of delights just waiting to be discovered, and the well-written music simultaneously offers the instant-gratification of base metallic fun, alongside refined and sophisticated entertainment with depth. There’s a lot to explore on The Zornheim Sleep Experiment, and I love that it’s all bound tightly in the album’s lean running time, rather than pointlessly packing itself with filler just for the sake of it.
The Zornheim Sleep Experiment is a joy to listen to. It’s very ambitious, but succeeds in these ambitions because, ultimately, it’s just a damn good metal album with damn good metal songs.
Very highly recommended.