Zao has been an ever changing band, starting off as hardcore punk and (with the addition of Dan) slowing evolved into a metal machine. Throughout the years, Zao has expiremented with several different styles of music, and their new album, The Fear... is no exception. In this case, they've added some influences of..... grindcore. Anyone who has heard any of the new tracks online (the entire album is up to listen to at zaoonline.com at the moment), can instantly hear the grind influences in the tracks, it's definitly not Number 12 or anything like that, but the instruments definitly speed up and get creative with the time signatures. The guitars are more complex (Scott really pushes himself on this album), the drums are insane (courtesy of new Zao drummer Jeff Gretz), and the bass is more noticable now than ever (complements of Martin Lunn). Also, Dan switches between his signature scream (which defined Zao and influenced bands such as Haste The Day), and a deep throated growl. This is a new direction for Zao, but does it work?
(just incase anyone argues with me about reviewing this cd ahead of time, ferretstyle.com shipped all pre-orderes on 6/6/06, and i got mine the following day in the mail.)
1: Cancer Eater:
A sort of intro to the cd, it starts off with beautiful, yet haunting guitar work. At 1:28, the distortion kicks on, and Dan's screams are unleashed. Under the screams, Martin sings, and does a damn good job of it too. This is a great way to open the record, and a good example of the route that Zao has taken with their new album. 5/5
2: Physician Heal Thyself:
Those who checked Zao's website every day for the past month should know this as the first song they posted from the album, and it was a damn good choice. The drums on this track are crazy (once again, kudos to Jeff), and the guitars are fast and furious. The bass really stands out at 2:00, and is one of the best parts of the song. At 2:36, we get our first breakdown (!), which is an amazing one to say the least. Great track. 5/5
3: Everything You Love Will Soon Fly Away:
This is by far the darkest track on the album, harkening back to the days of Liberate... the guitars are furious, as are Dan's vocals (especially during the chorus). At 1:46, we get some palm muted guitars and Dan talking the lines "everything we are, we are when we're alone", then it goes right back into the heavy riffs that compose this song. Fans of Liberate will love this track. 4/5
4: It's Hard Not To Shake With A Gun In Your Mouth:
The guitars in the beginning of this song are crazy, Scott is seriously showing off on this album (which is damn good). At 8 seconds the song kicks into high gear with Dan's screaming. The bass stands out very well in the chorus, which is half sung by Scott and half screamed by Dan. The post chorus at the end of the 2nd chorus is kickass, and the bass!!! woo!!!!! After the post chorus comes an interlude, with Dan taking through it "And your voice is a sounding trumpet, announcing the mountians which you've moved". At 2:45, it's back to the screaming for a post interlude, then the chorus one last time. This song will make your face melt. 5/5
5: Kingdom of Thieves:
After a brief guitar intro, the song picks up with Dan's screaming. This song reminds me more of The Funeral Of God era Zao. This song has a nice little chorus (good for moshing), and a jucy little breakdown. Each instrument complements each other quite well on this album, and this song is a good example of that. 4/5
6: Killing Time 'Til It's Time To Die:
This song doesnt waste anytime, it cuts the foreplay and jumps right into some asskicking metal. One hell of an angry song, very fast and agressive. Dan's vocals soar throuthout this song, and the guitars sound more Parade of Chaos-y, and what is this?! A solo?! YES! At 1:18, one of the most kickASS solos by Zao that i've heard. This song rocks this album so hard, my tiny little laptop speakers can hardly contain it! Amazing song, definite 5/5
7: There Is No Such Thing As Paranoia:
This song has a very cool intro, not too fast or anything, but the drums are very solid and the guitar leads the song to Dan's screams. One of the slower songs on the cd. At 1:26 however, things spead up a little, but it still keeps a steady pace. A good song to headbang to. 4.5/5
8: Pudgy Young Blondes With Labotomy Eyes:
Starts up with the drums leading into the song with the guitar in the background. This song gets back to the fast paced, pissed off mood that this cd is about. Dan's vocals are perfect in this song, and the guitar is so agressive. There's a little breakdown in the middle of the song, but it still keeps pace. Then, all of the sudden, at 2:02, you come to an abrubt stop by a soothing, tranquilizing guitar melody sounding sort of similar to the intro of Cancer Eater (the sound i mean, not the melody). It's sort of a "wtf?". Soon, the drums and bass join in, and then, all of the sudden, you're smacked in the face. It's back to the distortion and screaming. Some great guitar work in this song, and a nice little bass break (not a long one, but it gets noticed). Definitly a note-worthy track. 5/5
9: My Love, My Love (We've Come Back From The Dead):
And now for a song about zombies =). The story is that a couple was killed by a gang and 7 years past the 7th day on the 7th night, they rise to inact their revenge (a-la The Crow). The song itself screams Zao, with Scott doing some very nice guitar work, he keeps things in melody but also keeps things chaotic. There's another nice bass break in the middle of the song. The music itself at one point sounds a bit, should i say MCR-ish? Dont fear, though, as Dan's constant screaming lets you know just who the **** you're listening to. The song goes back into (i guess i'll say) the chorus riff before ending. All in all, Zao pulls off this song perfectly. 5/5
10: American Sheets On The Deathbed:
I've been looking foward to hearing this song the most out of all the others, and i was not dissappointed with it at all. The song is very fast (it has some tremelo picking in the verses), and the chorus keeps the song moving, never slowing down. A little beardown at about 1:50 screams "We are monsters in the eyes of the world". Then, a bit later, another little breakdown screaming "divided while we conquer". 5/5
11: A Last Time For Everything:
You didnt think Zao would leave you with an amazing album with a lame last song, did you? This is by far the most amazing song on this album. If these songs were candy bars, A Last Time For Everything would be Take 5. It has a best of everything Zao, from the agressive side, to the rock side. In the end, it's just Jeff banging on the drums with Dan screaming the lyric "the fear is what keeps us here!", and that's all i'll tell you. This song will make you *** yourself, it's that good. 10/5 (you're damn right i just gave this track 10/5, i could not be more happy with the way this album ends)
All in all, Zao has givin us one of their most kick ass albums since WBAFBR. They havent reinvented themselves, but they sure as **** spiced things up a bit. If you like metal, and you havent ordered this cd or planned to buy it yet, you are going to kick yourself in the ass for leting this masterpiece of metal pass through your hands. This is one of Zao's best works yet.
- Every song on here is worth a listen, but dont ruin the last track for yourself by listening to it first! save the best for last!!!
- Zao pulls off their new spiced up sound flawlessly, and they combine every single style they've had over the years like it was pb&j.
- The only con i have is that some die hard fans of Zao's other work, and some new fans, might not warm up too much to their new grind influence, but give it a chance. You dont want to miss out on this.
*The cd also came with a dvd, which i will watch right now that i'm done with this review. i'll post my thoughts on it later.