Zao] - Awake?
Release Date: May 5, 2009
Record Label: Ferret Record
Zao is back with their anticipated ninth album entitled Awake?. These men have been around for awhile, but they still haven’t lost their edge. Metalcore fans, you can begin the rejoicing right now.
Awake? starts off quickly with the guitarist’s great lead and insane drum work in the track "1,000,000 Outstretched Arms of Nothing." Throughout Awake?, you'll quickly realize this is Zao's strong point. The vocalist comes in quickly with an impressive growl and screams, "And there was a prison in my mind / death is inside us / reality changes around us / as time unfolds us / Our eyes see what they want to, not what they want to."
Zao has been around for quite some time, and has gone through many lineup changes, but they are still as good or better at what they do. Vocalist Daniel Weyandt does a great job at both laying down the growls and writing the lyrics. The vocals are one of their strong points; for example, “Entropica" shows just how quickly and easily Zao's vocalists can go from sludgy growls to a soothing chorus. His lyrics are easily read, yet complex and deep with meaning. In the track "Romance of the Southern Spirit" (which is a re-recorded track), he belts out, "We fade, fade away like a dream / we come apart at the seams /every moment comes to an end / just another fading memory." There is an interesting contrast between both vocalists of Zao; Melinger makes all of the choruses very catchy, and Weyandt grabs your attention.
The instrumentation on the album is phenomenal. Every song is a relentless attack of face melting southern riffs mixed with great drum work. "What Will You Find?" is fast-paced and a perfect example of this formula. This track could easily be the best track on the album. After an impressive breakdown, the guitarists pull out an amazing duet that blows your mind. Unlike many other bands in the metalcore genre, Zao doesn't have one distinct sound; every track of Awake? sounds different. What more could you ask for? When Zao decide to make something sound heavy, they don't hesitate whatsoever (check out the track "Reveal"). I've always wondered what it would sound like to have something so heavy, but yet sound beautiful; luckily, the track "Quiet Messenger Pt.2/The World Caved In" portrays this perfectly.
Awake? is ZAO's ninth studio album, and some may think that because of this, they’ve lost their edge. My response to this is simply: they’re wrong, prepare for a great album.