Rating:
6.0
Zao - Awake?
5 May 2009


01. 1,000,000 Outstretched Arms Of Nothing
02. Entropica
03. The Eyes Behind The Throne
04. Human Cattle Masses Marching Forward
05. Romance Of The Southern Spirit
06. What Will You Find?
07. Awake?
08. Quiet Passenger Pt. 1
09. Reveal
10. Quiet Passenger Pt. 2 / The World Caved In


Call me picky if you like, but there's no doubt there's a very fine line between great harsh/death vocals and a man with no talent screaming into the microphone. Get it right, and you'll be hailed but get it wrong and it'll be worse than bad noise.

I hate going on about it, but for me, if a vocalist is awful then I'll instantly disregard the band and listen to something more worthwhile. Like I heard one band say, "Death vocals only work if the vocalist really feels what he's singing, not just screaming for the sake of it". Zao's ninth studio album 'Awake?' is a fair example of this, as I feel that singer Daniel Weyandt's growling/death voice just doesn't suit the music at all. I massively applaud singers like Mikael Stanne from Dark Tranquillity or Anders Friden from In Flames (with regards to their older material), who can sing incredibly gruff, yet still be understandable.

Not having heard anything of the band previously, 'Awake?' is something like progressive/stoner/sludge metal, Zao have put out an average album that has it's moments, put ultimately fails due to incredibly dull and weak song writing. Most songs are in the sludge metal vein, with slow, heavily distorted riffs and screaming, but several songs include some faster paced, almost Devin Townsend sounding vibes. These types of moments sound great, especially when the occasional use of melodic, clean vocals enter the songs.

'1,000,000 Outstretched Arms Of Nothing' is a poor excuse for an opening song and basically sums up most of the album, with tedious, boring riffs and monotonous screaming. 'What Will You Find?' and 'Entropica' bring in those Devin Townsend influences and are easily the best songs on the album. The finale called 'The Quiet Passenger pt.2/The World Caved In' does an OK job of finishing the album and manages to have some decent songwriting.

Dreary guitar work and uninspired singing make this release from Zao a very disappointing one. Some hits but mostly misses, but I'd definitely like to hear more of the faster songs with clean singing for future releases.

Performance: 6
Songwriting: 6
Originality: 7
Production: 9


Band profile: Zao
Album: Awake?


 


written by itsjoeymoose | 19.05.2009



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BestMetalstormer - 20.05.2009 at 05:54  
I find it not really bad, just only non oustanding or special, full of metalcore, the vocal works for me, though I guess I will feel bored of this album music
Shadowcross - 20.05.2009 at 08:56  
Good review. they are a Christian band and I thought this band mainly played metalcore/deathcore...
I'll eventually hear this release, although I wasn't too fond of their earlier stuff. I felt it was a bit overrated by scene kids who didn't know what death metal was supposed to sound like
Fat & Sassy! - 20.05.2009 at 09:50  
Aw fuck. I have a friend that listens to this mediocre band, and now they have a new album? I guess I know what I'm gonna be hearing for the next couple months.

Honestly though... take off the "?", pretend this is prog... and you have a fantastic album made 15 years ago.
Sunioj - 31.05.2009 at 13:25  
I was reading this review and having listened to most of their albums in the past I was thinking, 'sludge metal? zao? a long running xian metalcore band?'. So I listened to this album and indeed, it does blow. Alot. I think they were aiming for a more 'hardcore' approach and its pretty shit. The Funeral of God was the album that stood out the most for me, I haven't heard the album after, but I heard its also pretty good.

EDIT: underoath has probably taken this bands place as my favored xian metalcore band.

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