Zao - _All Else Failed_
(Solid State (re-release), 2003)
by: Xander Hoose (
Not having heard the original _All Else Failed_ record, it's hard for me to delve very deep in the differences between the original and this re-recording of their 1995 album. Why a band would completely re-record one of their own albums is still a big question to me, but nonetheless Zao did it and this is the result. Objectively, _All Else Failed_ is a very good mix between metalcore and black metal influences. Songs are atmospheric, tight, catchy and it's obvious all the musicians are very skilled. However, there's too much midtempo riffing on the album, making some of the songs drag on towards their end, which is a shame. A little more variation wouldn't have hurt here, and a good example of a band who operates in this exact same style while keeping a better eye on diversity is Shogun (now defunct, unfortunately). Even through Zao is obviously more skilled technically than Shogun, the latter manage to keep their songs more interesting; if it wasn't for Zao's excellent closing song "All Else Failed" I doubt many people would remember how the album ended. Another curious fact is the omission of two tracks that were present on the original _All Else Failed_ album, "In These Times of Silence" and "Simple Reminder", making this not just a re-recording but an incomplete re-recording. Strange. Still, this album is a good pick for both Zao fans and metalcore fans in general if you see through the flaws.
(article published 6/3/2003)
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