Album Review :
Zao - The Well-Intentioned Virus

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Label: Observed/Observer
Release date: December 9, 2016
“The Weeping Vessel”
“A Well-Intentioned Virus”
“Broken Pact Blues”
“Jinba Attai”
“Haunting Pools”
“Sun Orbits Around Flat Earth Witch Trials”
“I Leave You In Peace”

Zao has certainly progressed musically since their 2004 release, The Funeral of God, which is an ironic title to me, as it was their last record as a Christian band.

“The Weeping Vessel” is brutal when the music comes in, but it is also very melodic and emotional it seems. Sounds like Emocore. With good reason. The song deals with the miscarriage of Vocalist Dan Weydant’s first child. It is a very somber song.

“A Well-Intentioned Virus” is brutal. The musicianship and correspondence is incredible. The song doesn’t seem like it would be a heavy song, but when you throw Weydant’s vocals over it, that all changes! The song deals with people who had good intentions, but who would be looked at as evil.

“Broken Pact Blues” starts off very aggressive but stops suddenly. It starts back up with Guitarist Scott Mellinger’s eery cleans. The aggressiveness comes back into play at around 2 minutes. This song dealt with a suicide pact broken by Weydant’s brother, Matt.

“Jinba Ittai” has a groovy Metalcore intro, kind of like the time signature of Living Sacrifice’s Reborn or Hammering Process. The song talks about the concept of a horse and its rider becoming one, so to speak. Near the end of the song, the band does a kind of spazzy breakdown of sorts.

“Apocalypse” is primarily sung by Mellinger. It was written by him as well. The concept of this song is, that everyone struggles with things in life, while no one notices anyone else’s problems. Losing your house may seem to be a apocalypse to some one, while another person is not experiencing that grief and sorrow. Weydant comes in near the halfway point of the song. The two trade off for minutes at a time, with Mellinger’s turns being sludge metal like and Weydant’s are thrash like.

“Xenophobe” hit us last year with it’s intensity, giving us a taste of what was to come. There is elements of Emocore musically, but also Mathcore. Not Dillinger Escape Plan mathy for the record.

“Haunting Pools” talks about a fever dream Weydant had. A freaky fever dream. He also apparently lives across the street from a cemetery, so that probably has something to do with the weirdness of his dream. I can’t explain how he told it. ‘It was broken! We found it like this!’ The sound exhibits more of Mellinger’s cleans.

“Observed/Observer” conducts emotion through the instruments, giving a very somber and emotional feel until Mellinger leads a solo, which brings in Weydant’s Vocals, Guitarist Russ Cogdell’s Rhythms.

“Sun Orbits Around Flat Earth Witch Trials” (what a title) is fast and brutal. The song is based off the idea of back in the day, people thought the Sun orbited around the earth and the earth was flat and if you questioned this, you’d be put to death. Essentially, the song is about what the false truths of today are. Drummer Jeff Gretz does an amazing job his part. Around 2:45, the song goes into almost a southern Metalcore groove.

“I Leave You in Peace” definitely brings the Metalcore sound. The song is the longest on the record, filling all the time that needs to be filled. Not to say this is a filler track, they could totally play this track live. This whole album matter of fact. The song has a few minutes of Weydant’s spoken word.

The band is still the same as ever, just back with a new sound. The band still has the heart-felt message of all the way back when none of these guys were in the band. The message has only changed ever slightly. They sound like Zao.

For those who like: Living Sacrifice, Carcass, Zao

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