"The Fear is What Keeps Us Here" (Ferret; 2006)

Reviewed by Mike SOS

Despite the fact that you need a scorecard to keep track of this band's ever-changing lineup, Zao just finds new band members and continues to crush all in its path. Their latest excruciatingly heavy excursion comes in the form of the 11-track "The Fear is What Keeps Us Here," a Steve Albini produced slab of the band's trademark nasty, nebulous, and noisy hardcore. 

Tracks like the merciless "Pudgy Young Blonds With Lobotomy Eyes" sound like a heated war pitting Melvins vs. High on Fire, while "Killing Time 'Til It's Time To Die" throws out a Discharge-like punk vibe with thunderous metalcore rhythms and a tasty guitar solo that flows into a pummeling breakdown. 

Flavored with the intense energy of metal warriors gone punk rock anarchists, songs like "Kingdom of Thieves" and "Cancer Eater" (which contains one of the most pristine guitar intros this side of Randy Rhoads) maintain the band's old school roots with an unrefined element that empowers "The Fear is What Keeps Us Here" as a supreme lesson in how to keep things unwaveringly raw and punishingly heavy. 

For more information, check out

"The Funeral of God" (Ferret/Roadrunner; 2004)

Reviewed by J. Kennedy

Apparently, this is Zao's tenth release. And here I was thinking they were just a bunch of upstarts! Before doing this review, I decided to listen to some of the band's older stuff. Nothing much of  interest. It all sounds pretty much the same. This album, however, has an interesting concept. I love concept albums and this one is pretty good. 

The concept here is that we are seeing the actual funeral of God himself. Pretty powerful stuff. One notable mention here for the fact that this album is indeed metalcore. Extreme metalcore at that. If Killswitch Engage are the best metalcore band of the moment (which they probably are), then Zao are giving them a run for their money. This band has a more rough-and-ready sound which would likely be entertaining in a live setting.

One thing that lets most metalcore albums down however, is also present here. There is little to distinguish between tracks. Most of it sounds very much the same.

As far as good tracks to hear prior to buying this CD, I would recommend the speedy and guitar-driven "The Last Revelation (The Last Prophecy)" or the ending epic track, "Psalm Of The City Of The Dead." The latter proves to be a very good finale to the record with a good beginning riff.

Overall, this album will likely do little for the careers of Zao but with - the current high on metalcore - they may sell a few more records than normal.

Zao: Dan Weyandt, Scott Mellinger, Russ Cogdell, Stephen Peck and Shawn Koschik.

For more information, check out 

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

Back to CD Reviews Home

Back to Home

Copyright 2006 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 04 Jun 2023 14:49:29 -0400.