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All Else Failed
Released: 2003, Solid State Records
It seems to be the thing to do these days. What I am referring to is when bands rerecord older material from early in their careers. The reasons for this are many and varied. Some bands do it because they can’t gain rights to the older recordings to re-release them so to work around that problem they rerecord the older or hard to find material. Another reason is purely for the money, as a cash grab, a way to get more money out of the fans. One final reason for re-cutting older material is that the band has changed so much that they want to go back and put to tape the evolution that the older material has taken over the years. This is the case on ALL ELSE FAILED. Zao began life in 1996 as a more straightforward punk inspired hardcore band. After the recording of the original ALL ELSE FAILED, the band split with vocalist Sean Jonas and right now all that remains of the original lineup of the band is drummer Jesse Smith. With new members came a new sound as the band leaned more in the metal direction. Joining Smith is Daniel Weyandt: vocals and Scott Mellinger on guitar.
ALL ELSE FAILED is 8 tracks of hardcore influenced metal, or metalcore as the band would call themselves though I think they are moving a bit away from that label. “Resistance” opens up the disc with one of the catchier guitar riffs on the CD. Unfortunately I haven’t heard the original version of the songs on the disc but it is not hard to tell that vocalist Weyandt would fit in no punk band that I ever hear. His vocals sound like a pissed off rattlesnake has made a home in your garbage disposal. Abrasive and harsh, they add strength to the song where a lesser screamer might have dropped the proverbial ball. The straight-ahead thrashiness of “Foresight” is followed up by “PS77” which threw me for a major loop. At first I thought I was listening to “Re-animation” by Canadian thrashers Sacrifice. I assumed at first that they were covering the song but when I looked at the liner notes it was no such thing. It seems as if they just lifted the intro almost note for note. The rest of the song carries on in a much different direction but the intro is almost note for note. The CD is closed with the 13 ½ minute title track which alternates between slow plodding guitars and an almost punkish vibe followed by 5 minutes of the sounds of rain falling.
After a couple of tracks I have to admit that the CD is a grower but I feel that something is missing. Without having heard the original songs I don’t have a point of comparison so I will chalk it up to the fact that the only original member is Smith. The band is solid but I kept hoping for a little more. Maybe it is just the whole process of re-recording older material that is getting in the way of enjoying the songs to their full extent and though the CD is a good listen I don’t think the band has reacted their full potential.
2. In Loving Kindness
4. Growing in Grace
6. Ps 77
8. All Else Failed
Jesse Smith: drums
Scott Mellinger: guitars
Daniel Weyandt: vocals
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