Parade of Chaos
to me can be interpreted as Zao working out what sort of band they wanted to be after their fairly radical change of style on Self-Titled
, the LP that brought them into the new millennium with a fittingly modern sound. It seems like they couldn’t really decide either, torn between a more straightforward metalcore approach and the electronic experimentation they fiddled about with just a year previously. For example, “The Ballad of Buddy Bigsby” sticks out like a sore thumb, an interlude with programmed drums and a glitchy aesthetic in the midst of an album that is largely straight up metalcore. It’s similar to the tacked on IDM ending of “Suspend/Suspension” which although takes an appropriately darker tone still sounds out of place due to its disparateness.
Not that these moments are bad, they simply just sound out of place. A large part of this record consists of Zao sticking to what they do best, which is making fairly dark metalcore with Christian themes. Daniel Weyandt’s encompassing growl interplays nicely with the eerie spoken vocals, while the guitar playing takes on a slightly more melodic approach than previous works. “Angel without Wings” is a nice example of this as it features a good balance between the heavier verses and melodic chorus that would later become an over-used technique in the genre. Other tracks such as “Killing Cupid” whole heartedly go down the abrasively heavy route with trademark metalcore dissonance and chaotically winding guitar work, falling more in line with the NWOAHM than traditional 90’s core.
Elsewhere Zao manage to fuse the experiments of Self-Titled
to their straightforward metalcore approach with more success. “Free The Three” (referring to the West Memphis Three) features a dreamlike middle section with acoustic guitar, overlaid vocals and subtle electronics that suitably mirrors the strange nature of the case itself. “Man In the Womb” then continues this aesthetic, revolving around a simple acoustic riff, soft vocals and a piercingly artificial shifting buzz. The track then devolves through some psychedelic guitar work as it fades out abstractly. It’s indicative of Zao’s ability to craft tracks that go beyond what is normally expected of the genre with surprising success.
Parade of Chaos
is therefore left in a strange place. In some areas it fails to fully incorporate the ideas milling around from Self-Titled
, while not attempting it at all elsewhere. It leaves me wishing for more as although the straightforward metalcore tracks are enjoyable Zao prove that they can do more for the genre on the very same album, almost as if they’re are teasing us. But, this era of Zao is far behind us now and with their first full length in 7 years coming out this december it’s unlikely we will get a revival of this approach above all the others they’ve moved through.