AlbumsDecember 1, 201716,088 views

Zao Pyrrhic Victory

1. Drifting Shadows In Walking Dreams 2. Gifts Of Flowers And Stone 3. Clawing, Clawing, Never Cutting Through 4. The Host Has Bared Its Teeth 5. Feed It Pain
2017 self-released
Our score 8


Nearly a year ago, Zao released their critically acclaimed eleventh full-length album, The Well-Intentioned Virus. Following seven years of silence, the record found the remolded metalcore pioneers crafting some of the strongest and most technical songs of their entire career. Rather than rehash past successes or chase current genre trends, the five-piece instead continued carving out their own sound, building upon the dreary and apocalyptic foundation they began laying in the mid-nineties. Luckily, fans of the band don't have to wait nearly a decade for the album's follow-up as their latest EP, Pyrrhic Victory, comes hot on its predecessor's heels. Its five songs are simultaneously an extension of The Well-Intentioned Virus and a step further into the progression of Zao's sound. Centered around the teetering riffs and off-kilter interplay of guitarists Scott Mellinger and Russ Cogdell, Pyrrhic Victory is raw and unrelenting. Opener "Drifting Shadows In Walking Dreams" blasts through its thrashy, pinched harmonic heavy first half before dropping out into a slow, Neurosis-inspired mid-section. Drummer Jeff Gretz plays a minimalist rhythm, bringing to mind the stylings of original beat keeper Jesse Smith before corralling the track back to its noisy, dissonant conclusion. "Gifts Of Flower And Stone" bookends its spoken word passage and soaring guitar solo with chaotic riffs and demonic screams while "Clawing, Clawing, Never Cutting Through" bounces between melody and aggression with a sophistication lacking in most of modern metalcore. The track weaves through wobbling guitars, clean vocals and sludgy rhythmic breaks before closing out on another wailing guitar solo. One thing Zao have always done particularly well is melding the complex with the simple and the beautiful with the ugly. Pyrrhic Victory is no exception. Mellinger and Cogdell's guitars bounce off each other, complementing and contrasting at just the right moments. For every austere drum-beat, Gretz provides a creatively wild fill; and threading its way through it all is vocalist Daniel Weyandt's incomparable screams. This is all perhaps best on display during closer "Feed It Pain." As the track builds, discordant tones accompany the driving riff and pounding drums only to drop out into a gentle winding mid-section. The band suddenly kicks back in to high gear as the track descends into its chaotic denouement. It's the type of well-structured song we've come to expect from Zao at this point. Bottom Line: Pyrrhic Victory proves that The Well-Intentioned Virus wasn't a late career outlier soon to be lost amongst mediocre output. Not only are Zao for real nearly twenty years after dropping their landmark record, Where Blood And Fire Bring Rest, they may actually be better than ever.


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chicken_gang_bang 12/1/2017 1:37:59 PM

Thanks celine. Are zao are

anonymous 12/1/2017 4:26:37 PM

Everyone who reads this check out their first album, All Else Failed, for a metalcore masterpiece. Just don't listen to the remake.

anonymous 12/1/2017 5:43:15 PM

these last 2 releases have been ace. hope they keep it up

anonymous 12/1/2017 7:11:52 PM

Anyone that reads this needs to check out their 1994 demo masterpiece, Author. That is by far their best album to date.

anonymous 12/1/2017 9:11:33 PM

the only people that pull that "pre dan zao is better" shit are jesus freak nutso's that are bitter. there is nothing good about that era

anonymous 12/2/2017 7:48:10 AM

After their epic demo Sustained, they really fell off. That was their best album to date!

anonymous 12/2/2017 8:01:48 AM

Was really hoping they'd go back to the ex inferis/blood and fire sound, guess that'll never happen

anonymous 12/2/2017 11:13:22 AM

those 2 records sound nothing alike

anonymous 12/2/2017 5:25:48 PM

blood and fire is the ONLY zao album.

anonymous 12/2/2017 6:07:41 PM

Blood and fire had nostalgia. But is really bone headed and one dimensional looking back on it. Much prefer where they are now

anonymous 12/2/2017 6:54:38 PM

The older your favorite/only album = The more badass you are.

anonymous 12/2/2017 6:59:13 PM

for me Liberate,The Fear and Virus are where it's at. Have to check out the new one. I like when they get darker/dirtier and a little less "hardcore" people rave about Blood and Fire and Funeral, and while those have great songs (every zao record has great songs) as a whole, i don't like that angle of what they do as much. too clean and simplistic

anonymous 12/4/2017 6:38:37 AM

1/10 awful all around low tier metalcore 12-15 years ago when AILD was putting out historically important and progressive material. shadows are security rip off band

anonymous 12/4/2017 8:20:52 AM

irony that the record Tim was involved with is their worst one

anonymous 12/4/2017 9:23:57 AM

Blood and Fire, Liberate, Self-Titled, Virus, and to a lesser extent Funeral of God, and Pyrrhic Victory. What a career though.

anonymous 12/4/2017 9:30:56 AM

I love Zao but Self-Titled is garbage. Could never understand why people rate that album so highly. it is cool from an experimental standpoint, but to praise that album and write off stuff like the Fear is ridiculous

anonymous 12/4/2017 12:38:04 PM

11 out of 10 this whole time i thought metalcore sucked it turns out it was just AILD that sucked i had no idea that there could be this much groundbraking shit on one record tim lambesis steered me wrong what an jerk he will probably try to hire someone to kill me now

anonymous 12/5/2017 6:26:52 AM

the fck, no shawn jonas love? i kinda dug Splinter Shards...

anonymous 12/5/2017 11:14:14 AM

jonas stuff is alright. but it is totally different. i never put it on when i want to listen to ZAO. it is kind of like chuck mosley era faith no more. yes. it is faith no more. and the original. but it was better after. and honestly. the dan era is why most people even know about zao. does anybody REALLY want to see a maiden tour with paul dianno?

anonymous 12/7/2017 7:26:21 AM

The reason , I think, people still rave about the old albums is bc Jesse Smith. His drumming is distinct on practically every record. I saw them on their "last tour" with him on drums and it was one of the heaviest shows I've ever been to. They had no bass player on this tour The band was so aggressive. This was summer 2002. I then saw them with their new drummer circa 2005(?) with ETID, and Misery Signals. Just wasn't the same. The band was over for me then.

anonymous 12/8/2017 11:30:14 AM

New AILD slays this album, bye bye zao

anonymous 12/11/2017 7:06:26 AM

Just saw them in Dallas, TX and they slayed. WAY harder than they did with Jesse. Also, the drummer you saw in '05 is not the same drummer they have now. Current drummer might be better than jesse

anonymous 12/14/2017 7:19:23 AM

who is the bitter bitch boy that gave this a 1? really? it's one of the best things they have done

anonymous 12/28/2017 6:53:43 AM

awful production. cheap attempt to sound have that "raw sound" sounds like a practice space jam. riffs are dated at just not that cool anymore. vocals are very hard to endure. no clue why anyone ever jocked this band in the first place. but then again people like bloodlet to. sooooooooo

anonymous 1/2/2018 3:59:24 AM


anonymous 1/4/2018 6:22:24 PM

Great EP. better than the album maybe?

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