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Album Reviews : Zao – Awake?

By on July 2, 2009

zaoawakePennsylvania’s Zao is one of the longest running bands throughout the Metalcore/Hardcore music scene today, faced with endless line-up changes and a tendency to experiment within their genre, Zao’s latest release, Awake?, pushes the boundaries to this genre of overused material.

Awake? sees Zao take on a aural pleasing ride of material, even through what is their 9th studio album released to date. That certainly is something to celebrate over, plus considering how amazing their latest album is Zao may one day be seen as true pioneers of Metalcore/extreme music genre. Vocalist , Dan Weyandt, delivers a growl that has become very easily recognised as his own. It feels like Dan has written his lyrics and screamed the way  he has to encourage a lot of audience participation at one of their live shows, could he one day rise to metal infamy alongside performers such as Brandan Schieppati of Bleeding Through or beloved and hated Oli Sykes of Bring Me The Horizon.

The songs on this album make you physically want to move, starting with a complex tune titled “1,000,000 Outstretched Arms Of Nothing” which weaves to and fro without any real purpose, yet it’s technicality is astounding. A lot of the tracks on this album are like this but they are accompanied by a more melodic use as heard in “Romance Of The Southern Spirit” which feature a more melodic guitar track from the fast paced, signature changing brilliance. Awake? features great moments of melody, which put an interesting aspect into this album.

The album to some may feel like a barrage of noise and breakdowns, but after a few listens it is hard not be feel completely immersed in a world of sound that can only be enjoyed. The serene acoustic ending on the final track “Quiet Passenger Pt. 2 / The World Caved In” is a very intriguing and attention grabbing ending rarely heard on albums of this genre to end what is one of the bands finest and interesting releases to date. Now when will an Australian tour take place? 8/10

Band: Zao
Album: Awake?
Year: 2009
Genre: Metalcore
Label: Ferret Records
Origin:  Pennsylvania, USA
www.myspace.com/zao

Track Lisiting:
1. 1,000,000 Outstretched Arms Of Nothing
2. Entropica
3. The Eyes Behind The Throne
4. Human Cattle Masses Marching Forward
5. Romance Of The Southern Spirit
6. What Will You Find?
7. Awake?
8. Quiet Passenger Pt. 1
9. Reveal
10. Quiet Passenger Pt. 2/The World Caved In

Reviewed by Thomas Szulik