(We present Andy Synn’s review of the new EP by Pennsylvania-based Zao, which will be released this coming Friday and is streaming in full as of today.)
Zao’s fantastic comeback album, The Well-Intentioned Virus, was easily one of the best and brightest releases of last year, even if its December release date kept it from appearing on most end of year lists.
Regardless of this, the band are clearly keen on capitalising on the momentum of their return, and are already working on their next full-length… while also set to drop a brand new EP, the five-track Pyrrhic Victory this Friday.
Well, you know what they say about striking while the iron is hot, right?
As visceral and as venomous as ever, opener “Drifting Shadows in Waking Dreams” wastes no time in assaulting your eardrums with a punishing display of molecular riffology and primal scream therapy, building swiftly to an unexpectedly doom-laden finale, before quickly switching tracks to unleash the calculated chaos and controlled demolition of “Gifts of Flowers and Stone”, which mixes meaty Metalcore malice with a sombre (and ever so slightly progressive) melodic undercurrent.
“Clawing, Clawing, Never Cutting Through” is a piece of classic light-and-shade song-writing, seamlessly juxtaposing Mellinger’s sublime cleans against the vitriolic vocalisations of Dan Weyandt, while the guitars crank out a steady stream of molten metallic riffs and razor-sharp hooks over the top of Jeff Gretz’s thunderous percussion.
By contrast “The Host Has Bared Its Teeth” is all angular edges and saw-toothed rhythms, largely eschewing melody in favour of a tumultuous cascade of caustic dissonance and feverish intensity, after which the climactic strains of “Feed It Pain” find the group interweaving snarling aggression and sombre introspection in a veritable firestorm of corrosive riffs, moody melodies, and scathing screams.
Short, sweet, and savage, this is one lean, mean, killing machine of an EP which should, hopefully, help make the wait for the band’s next album just that little bit easier to bear!
A couple of cuts are installed below. To hear the complete EP, leap over to Metal Injection.