Zao
The Funeral of God

The Funeral of God proposes that God has died leaving us to live completely upon free will. Some may not like Zao’s sound but many agree; they are influential and forward thinking with every release. Zao are a band constantly in a state of change. Just in the last two years so much has happened to them. First they left long-time label Solid State Records for secular music-based Ferret Records. Next they part with the only remaining founding member Jesse Smith (drums). Finally, they push the boundaries of Christian music by dealing with a controversial subject matter, again.Musically this is Zao’s most straightforward album in years. The pseudo-industrial short segues are gone. The interesting but directionless song experiments are gone. The album plays from start to finish, each song playing into the next in true concept album form. The new musicians add so much to the already dynamic songwriting of Scott Mellinger and Russ Cogdell. The replacement for Jesse Smith is Stephen Peck and he does an amazing job bringing jazzy fills to the metalcore sound, lending a shuffling progressive metal feel to the album. New bassist Shawn Koschik fills the music out immensely with his deep tones, a welcome addition when you remember Zao haven’t had a proper bassist on record in some time. Shawn also adds string arrangements to his writing credits. Dan Weyandt’s signature vocals remain true, but to switch up the monotony of just hearing his below-the-depths-of-hell guttural screams, Scott Mellinger adds some vocals. Not the most gifted vocalist, Scott’s voice is the everyman’s chorus, inviting any and all to sing along. Lyrically, Weyandt’s poetic lyrics create imagery that is outstanding, fitting with both the music and, of course, the concept. True fans, that will learn all the lyrics, will no doubt find themselves scared that God has died, leaving us to our own (destructive) devices.

Zao continues on after so many troublesome years. The best bands often are tied with many problems; infighting, legal issues, label issues, anti-this-and-anti-that group issues, etc. Zao has seen this and much more yet continues to make new, interesting metalcore, which is good if you get sick of listening to the current trend (can you say Swedish death metal meets tuff-guy hardcore?) The Funeral of God is dark music for dark times; a much needed catharsis.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Thomas Williams
July 13th, 2004

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