Zao
Awake?


3.0
good

Review

by Channing Freeman STAFF
May 4th, 2009 | 58 replies


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Zao's signature sound is now unfortunately starting to blend into the mass of recent metalcore bands.

It's sort of weird that Zao never really got the acclaim they deserved. Sure, they've had a bit of popularity, with a few magazines stating that they're the yin to Killswitch Engage's yang, but they've always flown a bit under the radar, never reaching the status of other bands of their ilk, like the aforementioned Killswitch, or the far-reaching influence of a band like Converge. So now it's 2009, and their new album Awake? comes out tomorrow, and instead of people saying things like "Awake? sees Zao breaking new ground," they're saying "Oh, another Zao record." To put it bluntly, Zao's time has passed, and at this point in their career, they probably won't gain many new fans with a new album.

Still, Awake? isn't bad. It is, however, expected (which was to be expected). And the "Killswitch's opposite" thing no longer applies too much, given Zao's recent implementation of clean vocals, and sadly, that leaves the band with little claim to fame in terms of uniqueness. Although Awake? certainly sounds like a bonafide Zao record, their signature sound is now unfortunately starting to blend into the mass of recent metalcore bands. 2006's The Fear Is What Keeps Us Here was a pretty bitchin' album. It was pretty melodic, but the live production was so ***ing raw that it all sounded fresh. Awake? sounds much cleaner, and it suffers for it. It's still pretty dirty, especially Dan Weyandt's vocals, but the instruments aren't as dense or chaotic as they sounded before. As such, the album seems more formulaic and predictable. "Entropica" is a good song, but the verse riffs have been done elsewhere - that stop-and-go style of playing sounds really dated now. That problem is repeated on nearly every track; the songs are good, but they've all got elements that detract from the whole. Awake? doesn't necessarily sound lazy, but it does sound like Zao have run out of ideas.

It's a good thing, then, that Weyandt's vocals have lost none of their intensity. He shreds his vocal cords with the best of them, sounding just as brutal as he did years ago. For the most part, he is the saving grace of Awake?; his vocals have always been such a complement to the music, and that hasn't changed in 2009. The synchronization between him and the instruments is something to behold - oftentimes his vocals start to blend with the guitar riffs, distorted as they are. And speaking of riffs, "What Will You Find?" is an absolute triumph of a song, and one of the only tracks where the instruments outshine the vocals. The frantic intro hearkens back to Zao's early days of chaos, juxtaposed nicely with the technical leads in the bridge, which is a bit different for them. And the last twenty seconds is probably the best part of the whole record - the dual bending riffs are the most head-banging thing I've heard in a while.

Other than that, there aren't too many standouts. Zao have always been a bit of a homogeneous-sounding band, but it worked well for them in the past. The songs would blend together, yeah, but it added to the oppressive nature of their sound. Awake? has a more hopeful sound to it then previous Zao records, and because of that, the homogeneous nature of the songs detracts from the rating. Still, fans of the band will be pleased with Awake? While it certainly isn't the best Zao album, it's certainly a Zao album, and as such it's good.



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user ratings (118)
Chart.
3
good
other reviews of this album
Zippermouth (3)
And there is a prison in my mind... Death is inside of us... Reality changes around us... As time...


Comments:Add a Comment 
mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
May 4th 2009


17920 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

haha omg this is the worst review ever

taylormemer
May 4th 2009


4917 Comments


Review sucks => still layzee

kintups
May 4th 2009


491 Comments


"they probably won't gain many new fans with a new album."

"While it certainly isn't the best Zao album, it's certainly a Zao album, and as such it's good."

This review contradicts itself badly.


Willie
Moderator
May 4th 2009


16049 Comments


How is that contradictory? It's not.

Digging: Skrew - Universal Immolation

Kiran
Emeritus
May 4th 2009


6001 Comments


Those two sentences say the same thing, kintups. It's a Zao album, it's just nothing new.

kintups
May 4th 2009


491 Comments


Open your eyes, brother. Can you not see? The truth.. the truth is speaking to you. The contradictions only wish you to embrace them. Join us, brother. You are welcome here.

taylormemer
May 4th 2009


4917 Comments


Layzee way to get out of your wrong doings.

kintups
May 4th 2009


491 Comments


"Layzee way to get out of your wrong doings."

Everything I've done has been for the greater good. Yes, even the arson. Especially the arson.

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
May 4th 2009


17920 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

kintups shut your face and learn to read

Zizzer
May 4th 2009


915 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I like this review. A pretty good way to sum it up

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
May 4th 2009


20857 Comments


Guess who's back... Back again.

No, not Eminem, he's small-fry compared to Chan!

Si1v3RfaNg
May 4th 2009


817 Comments


nice review chan, i was gonna get this, then i remembered i dont really like zao that much

mothergoose
May 4th 2009


308 Comments


I tried really hard to like Zao's last few albums but had so much trouble telling them apart that I gave up. But really, the vocal effect drives me crazy. Is he still doing that on this album? If that's not an effect, he needs to have his lungs checked out.

SKUDstorm
May 4th 2009


136 Comments


hay chan why dont you review good music

Spare
May 4th 2009


5313 Comments


Bands should stop putting unnecessary punctuation in album titles.

taylormemer
May 4th 2009


4917 Comments


Well, are you awake?

Spare
May 4th 2009


5313 Comments


Good point.

DaveBum69
May 4th 2009


699 Comments


am i the only person that lieks this cd?

natey
May 4th 2009


4170 Comments


summary made me lol

Zippermouth
May 4th 2009


1305 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

That hurts man.



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