Reading the song titles on an album can sometimes gives away a band's sound, or at least their intent. Zao's had me confused though. Some titles ('The Eyes Behind The Throne' for example) suggest a dark and brooding deathy experience. Others ('Romance of the Southern Spirit') could well be, er, anything really. As it happens, I've come to the conclusion that Zao are in fact the world's first Emo-Death-Metal-Metalcore band (Emodo-core anyone?). So, congratulations to them on melding quite opposing styles of music into one. Except that it doesn't quite work. Daniel Weyandt possesses a decent growl/scream hybrid, but doesn't shy away from Emo-crooning either. Which, along with the musical shifts mid-song to a more melodic hardcore bent, made me consider this weird melding of styles in the first place. However, they don't gel too well. Not being a fan of Emo may well have an impact on this (unless we consider the original 'Emotional Hardcore' groups such as Quicksand rather than the shit-kickers of recent times such as My Chemical Fall Out Confessional). Still, for those moments that avoid these trappings, we're treated to a competent blast of deathy metalcore. Competent doesn't cut the mustard these days however, so we're left with a mediocre album of conflicting styles mixed together to form a confused mess, topped off by the annoying fact that you know a band with ten albums under their belt should do better. I can't begin to understand who the target audience is here; metalcore fans may appreciate it a little, but hardened deathers/emo nutters won't find anything of substance here. The only glimmer for me was closing track 'Quiet Passenger Part 2/The World Caved In'. Nicely melodic (without pandering to the screamo/emo/emu crowd) it finishes with a poetry piece, complete with discordant acoustic guitar. Nice. But too little too late.
Review by Steve Cowan
5th May 2009
1) 1,000,000 Outstretched Arms of Nothing
3) The Eyes Behind the Throne
4) Human Cattle Masses Marching Forward
5) Romance of the Southern Spirit
6) What Will You Find
8) Quiet Passenger Pt.1
10) Quiet Passenger Pt.2/The World Caved In
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"...a mediocre album of conflicting styles mixed together to form a confused mess..."