ZAO - Awake?

Zao - Awake?

10 songs
42:38 minutes
***** ****


Zao are a metalcore band, but as they started already in 1993, making Awake? already their ninth longplayer, they must be considered a pioneer of this currently very trendy genre. Their last album The Fear Is What Keeps Us Here was undeniably great and showed that their style is not averse to jaw-dropping complexity. Their new album has the much shorter title Awake? and was produced by As I Lay Dying frontman Tim Lambesis. This may be the only concession to their Christian past.

The only reproach I had for the predecessor were the somewhat monotonous vocals. It seems as if the band has learned, because this time singer Dan Weynandt offers a much more varied performance. Some bands need two people for growls and melodies, but he manages to pull of this through without a problem. The opener is a rather raw track that would have fitted perfectly on the previous album, but it is followed by Entropica, a strong piece where the brutal and melodic parts and combined perfectly. Very brutal and lightning fast parts are more sparse this time, instead Zao stay more in a dark and threatening mid-tempo zone that reminds a little of Neurosis. Especially Reveal and What Will You Find? can be recommended. The catchy parts work also very well, as can be heard on Romance Of The Southern Spirit and Quiet Passenger Pt. 1 that display the improved songwriting qualities of the band.

Awake? will not disappoint Zao’s early fans but also has the potential to win over new followers. The band shows itself from an earthy side and never finds peace, which is an important quality for this genre. Zao can be proud of their new dynamic album free of weak tracks and fillers. I only wonder why the label decided to press only 8.000 units of the album.

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