Review: Zao

“All Else Failed”
(Solid State)

Sneering hardcore metal punk mix.  It’s crunching and crushing all over the place, sped up and broke down enough to keep the interest, even when the vocals get mired in their one-dimensional approach.  Favoring an acidic raspy approach with sparse usage of a spoken voice, it’s more about intensity and energy than clarity.  Zao does well to separate itself from the pack of soundalike genre splicers by dynamic uses of structure and volume.  Exemplified by the somber melodic interlude in “Ps 77” which is then devastated by the (literally) ripping sound of the guitars tearing a hole in its flesh.

When it gets REALLY heavy, it’s got shades of death metal, but mostly it’s just brutalicious hardcore (chunky metal influence) with great use of dissonant guitars and unexpected structure shifts.  The CD ends with a lengthy stretch of a thunderstorm, and some ‘whooping’ that sounds like it’s coming from some kind of animal, and then some screaming (that seemed to shut up all the ‘whooping’).  Then a final scream, blends into applause and someone coughing.  I’m sure there’s a story to this… but it makes an eerie cool closer to the pummeling I just received.