...something red (Strobelight)
~review by Uncle Nemesis
Before we begin, let's see what others are saying. Zadera themselves sum up their music quite simply: 'Batcave aus Magdeburg'. Meanwhile, Strobelight, the band's record label, favours a more elaborate description: 'From uptempo pogo-stormers to atmospheric melancho-smashers.' (Melancho-smashers? Oooh, I rather like that one. Wish I'd said it. Perhaps I will!) Those descriptions are entirely accurate, as far as they go - but they don't quite capture the variety of Zadera's music, or indeed mention the factor that holds all the variety together.
Zadera run the gamut from pell-mell punkisms to delicate ballads, from max-heaviosity metallic workouts to new-wavey pop. Sometimes, they'll chuck several of these styles into one song. But throughout it all they always keep their feet firmly planted in the zone marked Contemporary Mainstream Rock. Zadera's tangents never take them too far: whether they're on an acoustic folkie tip, punking out like it's 1977 (or at least 1982) all over again, or even revving up some almost Rammstein-ish riffs, they remain the very model of a modern rock band.
The sound is crisp and clean, the production is upfront and punchy. Conny Krack's vocals are assertive and given pride of place in the mix, and although the guitars sometimes gang up on her she's got her own vocal power and sympathetic production on her side. Clearly, this is a band who know what to do in the studio. The clean, smooth sound contributes much to Zadera's mainstream appeal. There are tracks here which would sit neatly between Nightwish and the Deftones on a heavy metal radio show; and other songs which could keep appropriate company with the likes of Kaiser Chiefs and KT Tunstall on alternative radio. There's nothing 'bedroom' about the Zadera sound. Whether they're being punk or rock or anything in between, they can effortlessly hold their own with the major players.
Let's dip in to that musical variety. 'That Much I Didn't Want To Know' is a prog-metal excursion, complete with time-changes, a 'sensitive' interlude, and furiously riffing guitars. And then we're 'Through The Pale Door', a kind of folk-rock power ballad which starts off all twingle-twangle acousticky, and then suddenly rocks out like someone just trod on the Lacuna Coil pedal. 'Life Strikes Back' is an abrupt shove into a punk rock mosh - it's fast and stroppy and sounds like Vice Squad. 'Circulation' is a squabble between Throwing Muses and the Psychedelic Furs, while 'Fallen' takes us back around the camp fire for another folkie singalong, although, as ever, the band rumbles in the background and eventually barges in with more of those hard-as-nails riffs. 'One More Life' is a shameless bang-yer-head metal workout, leavened by the vocals cruising smoothly over the top. 'Das Licht' is built on a dirty old Wreckless Eric riff - hey, promising! - but soon takes off into an enormous (and incongruous) stadium-size power ballad chorus. 'Search For You' is new wave pop, the sort of thing that would've had 4AD reaching for the chequebook round about 1987, although, as so frequently, Zadera can't resist throwing in a bit of metallic riffin' along the way. 'Sie' sees the band making it through a (mostly) acoustic number without, for once, turning it into a Jim Steinman-style power ballad, and 'Grey And Red' is another head-first dive into the swirling punk pit.
Well, if it's neatly-produced variety you want, Zadera certainly deliver. But I suspect that for all their punk and post-punk excursions they're really more of a metal band than anything else - they do seem to instinctively gravitate towards metal, even in songs which are otherwise based on entirely different styles. Interestingly enough, I cannot find any reference to metal in any of the band's publicity blurb - it seems they're playing that aspect of the music down, while taking care to big-up the Batcave side of things. Strobelight do seem intent on marketing just about every band on their roster to the deathrock crowd, and I think Zadera are being squeezed into that mould like others before them - not that the band themselves seem unwilling.
So, there you have it: slick and punchy modern rock that draws influences from all over the place, but which, ultimately, veers towards metal...while being presented to the world as more post-punkish than it actually is. Good stuff in many ways, but don't (quite) believe the hype.
Band website: http://www.zadera.de
Zadera's page on the Strobelight website: http://www.strobelight-records.com/s_rec/e/e_zadera.htm