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February 2005
Released: 2004, Solid State Records
Rating: 2.5/5
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland

While I have never heard of them before, Zao is a Seattle-based Christian metalcore band who hold something of a cult following in the Pacific Northwest. Formed in 1997, Zao has gone through a TON of lineup changes (*look to your right --->) and skipped around to a few labels, as well. Under the impression Zao had ceased to exist as a functioning band, Ryan Clark (Demon Hunter, Training For Utopia, Focal Point) put together LEGENDARY, seventeen of the "best" tracks (in his opinion) from Zao's brief career. Seattle's Solid State Records got behind the release and, in an interesting (stupid?) marketing move, released the CD in a white jewel case with just the tracklisting and no labeling anywhere as to what was inside. An information-filled booklet, written by Clark, is included that offers an extensive commentary on the band, full discography and the laundry list of band members.

One would never guess these guys are Christian, as there is no overt Bible-thumping going on and the vocals are barely discernable. The music is a blend of metalcore, punk and hardcore with throat-shredding vocals at points. The tracks on LEGENDARY are a mixed bag. "Free The Three" is actually quite brilliant in its use of emotional news clips to set the mood of the song. "Ravage Ritual" oozes with savage Slayer-like riffs and "The Race of Standing Still" is a monstrously heavy track. On the other hand, "Times of Separation" is just plain awful due to the vocals of Shawn Jonas and the three new tracks featuring the return of former vocalist Cory Darst are just as bad as those that Jonas appears on. Shredded vocal cords singing take on the same annoying rasp of the current phalanx of screamo bands terrorizing the market and no one in their right mind can encourage that type of behavior!

It just seems that for every killer track on LEGENDARY, there are two that are mediocre or terrible. Obviously, having SO MANY lineups mashed together on to one CD makes the music seem ever more divergent but LEGENDARY carries the same lack of cohesion that a soundtrack CD does. Zao hardly strikes me as a "singles" type of band, but isn't a "best of" collection supposed to showcase a band's career in a positive light?
Track Listing

1. Skin Like Winter (From LIBERATE TO EX INFERIS 1999)
2. 5 Year Winter (From ZAO 2001)
3. A Fall Farewell (From WHERE BLOOD AND FIRE BRING REST 1998)
4. Suspend Suspension (From PARADE OF CHAOS 2002)
5. Walk On By, Walk On Me (Pianist Prophecy) (From SPLIT E.P. with Training For Utopia)
6. Ravage Ritual (From WHERE BLOOD AND FIRE BRING REST 1998)
8. Savannah (From LIBERATE TO EX INFERIS 1999)
9. The Race of Standing Still (From ZAO 2001)
10. Free The Three (From PARADE OF CHAOS 2002)
11. Angel Without Wings (From PARADE OF CHAOS 2002)
13. The Ghost Psalm (From LIBERATE TO EX INFERIS 1999)
14. Trash Can Hands (From ZAO 2001)
15. The Icarus Complex (New Track)
16. One Last Time (New Track)
17. All Dressed Up (With No Place To Go) (New Track)


Jesse Smith--Vocals/Guitar/Bass/Keyboards/Drums
Corey Darst, Shawn Jonas, Daniel Weyandt--Vocals
Roy Goudy, Brett Detar, Russ Cogdell, Scott Mellinger--Guitar
Mic Cox, Rob Horner, Brett Detar, Russ Cogdell, Scott Mellinger--Bass

Other reviews

» All Else Failed
by Rick

» Legendary
by Lord of the Wasteland

Next review: » Zardens - Blackness Unfolds
Previous review: » Zao - All Else Failed

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