Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Album Review: Zao - The Well-Intentioned Virus

The Well-Intentioned Virus
***and1/2 out of *****

 The first full length in seven years from the five piece metalcore band from West Virginia comes back hard as the group seems to be reinvigorated as 2016 ends. The group, formally a "Christian" band have evolved into more "open minded artists" but still deal with spiritually in differently forms lyrically on the banging disk.

The scalding opener "The Weeping Vessel" is over four and half minutes of aggressive riffs, screams and propulsive percussion. It is a clear testament to the bands fans that they are back, the current group as constituted are Dan Weyandt – vocals Scott Mellinger – guitar, vocals Russ Cogdell – guitar Martin Lunn – bass, vocals Jeff Gretz – drums. The band has been through many lineup changes in their long career (they started in 1993) and sound as strong here as ever.

"Jinba Ittai" plays with tempos that go from warp speed to head banging groove with ease before a break down mid song energizes things even more. The bombastic title track is a blast of fury while "Broken Pact Blues" shows more range. Lyrically the song deals with Weyandt's brother breaking a suicide pact, while musically there is a mid-song slow-down, giving the lyrics a chance to be understood and the band to reflect on deeper feelings.

That slowing down comes back for the beginning of "Apocalypse" which ranges wildly around different soundscapes over its long run time. The same grandiose is incorporated into the disk closer "I Leave You In Peace" but this time it works better, there is more a flow and dynamic to the tempo changes and explosions of power.  

Other outings present the aggression directly, the dynamic "Xenophobe" (first released as a single last year) is a standout of this style; sounding metallic, fluid and challenging all at once. It is a track like this that makes any metal fan happy to have The Well-Intentioned Virus as a holiday gift in 2016.
An interesting metal release, support the band, buy the album or stream it on bandcamp or below as well as some video:

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