Zao - _Parade of Chaos_
(Solid State, 2002)
by: Aaron McKay (
I could see your more adventurous college students finding this follow-up to Zao's self-titled effort interesting and even worth parting with some of their allowance from mama and daddy to purchase. While not merely twinged with angst, Zao expels their irritation violently like a pissed-off South African spitting cobra. Reduced from a quartet on last year's _Zao_ [CoC #52], this Pennsylvania three-piece has picked up some rather out of place effects vocally and musically, such as at the end of the title track, "Parade of Chaos", possibly to make up for the missing member's contribution. Because of this C3PO-type stuff, the album falls short of any connection that the listener might want to make regarding their previous effort. This comes to pass even if you manage to take each song on its own merits and separate out the extra effects. Whether it be for rhyme or reason -- this mechanized principle, albeit used sparingly, doesn't seem to have purpose on _PoC_; the effort would do fine without its minimal intrusions. The ten tracks are FAR MORE than any toe tappin' and knee slappin' variety you might imagine; if you had the ability to do either of these aforementioned rhythmic time keepin' methods, you'd certainly look like a meth-craving circus clown trying to do so. Zao has talent filled to the rim with Brim (two sugars, tastes so sweet), but they loose a fair amount of appeal upon repeated listens. Where they excel is the overall dense sound of tracks like "A Pirate's Prayer" and "How the Weak Are Free". Creatively diverse, for sure, and unshakeable in their desire to forge steadily onward, often flying in the face of conventional metal acts, Zao trots out a procession of excessively thick material on _Parade of Chaos_. While it may not always be to everyone's liking at least they aren't using their throaty, harsh vocals to tell you about how evil they are.
(article published 3/31/2003)
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