STYLE: Hard Music RATING OUR PRODUCT CODE: 103982-17496 LABEL: Ferret Music FORMAT: CD Album ITEMS: 1
Reviewed by Andy Shaw
A lot has changed for Zao since their formation in 1993. Back then metalcore was a new thing and they were right at the cutting edge of an exciting new sound. Over the years the band has seen numerous line-up changes and there are now no original members left. The sound has evolved along with this but has always maintained the ferocity and passion that defines all great metal bands. 1999's 'Awake?', however, is destined to disappoint any hardcore fans even those who've been following the Greensburg, Pennsylvania-based unit since their emergence. It marks a distinct change in sound with the inclusion of clean vocals and a softer side than we are used to hearing from Zao. The album gets off to a good start with "1,000,000 Outstretched Arms Of Nothing" demonstrating they still have the ability to rip out some heavy riffs and pounding beats. There are other examples of what we have come to expect from the band on the likes of "Reveal" or "What You Will Find?", with its classic metal breakdown, but the disappointment is that this is the only breakdown you will find on the album. There is nothing wrong with having clean vocals adding a softer contrast to the full on metal on tracks such as "Entropica" or "The Eyes Behind The Throne" but not on a Zao album! It comes across as a band running out of ideas and veering far too close to the formulaic sounds of a hundred other hardcore bands. This is not a terrible album but today there are many younger hardcore outfits demonstrating fresher ideas than you'll hear here.
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