Some bands don’t evolve that much. For example, Switchfoot has released 4 solid cds with the same band members. Each release has clung to the same general sound. Fans know what they’re getting when they pick up a release.
On the other hand, some bands are a revolving door of members and sound. Zao could come close to being the King of this phenomenon. The only 2 cds which came close to sounding alike was the indie label release, “All Else Failed” and the follow up to that on the major label release, “The Splinter Shards The Birth of Seperation” both of which were pure, spirit-filled hardcore. Since then they’ve flirted with between the broad reaches of the metalcore genre, with some hardcore thrown in for good measure. Thier best and most influential cd was thier 2nd major release, “Where Blood And Fire Bring Rest”. It was a metalcore masterpiece for the time and age it was released, spawning a whole crop of Zao rip-offs.
Added to the drama of never knowing what each release would sound like, and wondering who would actually play on the cd with constant line-up shuffling, Zao officially “broke up” at least once or twice a year. Then something would change and they’d be back at it, making music. Then, in the summer of 2002 word came again that Zao was gone. They stopped touring and hopped in the studio one last time to record “Parade of Chaos” which was a borderline nu metal cd. And while they had the studio time, they decided to re-record thier first cd, “All Else Failed” with the current lineup.
So, the the “spirit-filled hardcore” version becomes metalcore. To be expected, there are good points and there are bad points. First the bad points.
-The songs have lost the passion. They’re now just being played without caring about it. There is no more “spirit-filled” to it. Just going through the motions isn’t cool.
-There is only 8 songs on this version, cutting 2 out.
-If you loved the hardcore version, but have not been fond of the metalcore Zao, this is a tragedy
-The production is better. The mix is good. The guitars feel crisp and noticable wihtout drowning out everything else.
-If you are not a fan of hardcore, but are into metalcore, this will be quite enjoyable.
-It’s tighter. Not as sloppy.
Basically, fans of old Zao will hate this, where the fans of new Zao will devour it. It’s a D+ for effort, but a B- for actual product.