Review Summary: Its a good listen if you want to listen to some 90's Hardcore/Metalcore or if you are a big Zao fan.
Before Where Blood and Fire Bring Rest Zao was almost a completely different band. With all different members besides Jesse Smith. Who now is no longer in Zao. This is there second LP, and has more of a hardcore sound and less of a metalcore sound that is found on Where Blood and Fire Bring Rest. This LP is far from being a classic like Where Blood and Fire Bring Rest is, there are a lot of flaws.
The line-up is quite different we have...
Shawn Jonas – Vocals
Roy Goudy – Guitar
Mic Cox – Bass
Jesse Smith – Drums
The guitar on this record is pretty average. Roy does bring in some hardcore crushing riffs and even some Earth Crisis sounding riffs. Exchange is a great example of what is good on this record. Has some hardcore riffs and a little melody that is actually memorable. I will give credit to the riffs for at least being some what innovative, and he adds some little variety and great song structure to keep you some what interested. Combing metal and punk riffs to make that metalcore sound. Though Roy does not really bring enough metal riffs into the record to make it metalcore. Some songs like Repressed have tremolo picking and that is really all that is metal about this record. The bass is some what audible but they don't bring much. They mostly follow the drums, and don't do much to stand out. Besides a quick intro on In Loving Kindness. But it is nice to be able to hear the bass. The drums are the best thing about the LP great beats and outstanding double bass. Jesse Smith does just as good as he would in the future. A lot of really cool fills that keep it interesting. He adds a good amount of complexity to keep you guessing. The vocals are definitely the second best thing on this LP. His scream is raw and sounds like Poison the Well's Jeffrey Moreira meets Earth Crisis's Karl Buechner. A lot of emotion. Though he is really repetitive and you don't ever get a break from his ferocity, does nothing to switch things up. Some may get bored quickly of his vocals.
A big flaw about this LP is the production. The drums at sometimes take over the guitars, and with the vocals going on its hard to really get a clear listen. The guitar tone sounds quite dull and ruff. To make things even worse you can hear when they cut to other riffs, its pretty unprofessional. Now i am not sure who to blame since Zao themselves and Drew Mazurek produced it. Either way it kills the mood when the music stops for half a second and then the music starts up again.
Some bands make really good first records. Some will make there classic later in there career, and that is the case for Zao. They first needed to get a new line up, and make a more innovate record. Like Where Blood and Fire Bring Rest. The Splinter Shards the Birth of Separation is a good listen if you want to listen to some really early Hardcore/Metalcore or if you are a big Zao fan. But good luck finding this record still. The only way is to "obtain" it from the internet. Or some online store. Like Amazon or Ebay.