Sound: When I got done listening to this CD for the first time, I couldnt breathe. This is one of the greatest metal/harcore/hard rock albums ever created. No this is not a Christian punk band as for some reason theve been desribed. ZAO has never been that. They are Christian harcore. But with a very emotional twist. Not emotional like emo crap. Emotional like the tears over deaths of family members and friends being screamed at you. Scott and Russ are back on guitar, but bring a slightly diferent sound this time. Its more prophetic in a way, with more feeling. The old tricks are back don't worry. There're still the breakdowns, the high pitch demented chords that Scott invented on the song Five year Winter, and now bands like Norma Jean and Glassjaw love to use so much, there are still chugging palm mute sections, and awsome harmonies. But this time there is a all encompesing feeling behind the album. This is not a rock opera album, but it does keep to a focused theme. The biggest surprise on the album? Clean singing! Unexpected yes, but it works pretty well I think. I'm still not sure if its Dan Weyandt or somebody else though, I haven't been able to find anything on that.
01. Breathe Of The Black Muse - starting the album off with a more old school ZAO riff that remenises the song Skin Like Winter. A sung chorus makes this song quite interesting, a very good song.
02. The Rising End (The First Prohecy) - one of the best songs on the album. This was the first single from this album. Starts off with twin guitar work superfast. The "chorus" is one of the strangest youll ever hear, followed by a breakdown which would be rather difucult to play drums to the first time, but Jeff Gretz does a excellent job.
03. The Last Revelation (The Last Prophecy) - starts with another super fast riff. But the real highlight of this song is the chorus which has screaming but has a high harmonie singing in the background. Next is a awsome breakdown followed by an excelent melodie/harmie by Scott and Russ, this is also one part of the album when the new bassist Marty Lunn is heard quite well. Lunn is definitly an improvement for ZAO.
04. The Last Song Form Zion - more of a ballad type song, with layered guitar parts. There is alot of good guitar harmonies in this song. Towards the end is where the old ZAO breaks back out with the "chugga-chugga-chugga-chugga ner NEE" Scott brings back his thrash chords. Yes!
05. Live... From The Funeral Of God - this song is very expirimental, lots of strange riffs, except for the chorus which is sung and screamed. The outro riff is one of the slowest, heaviest riffs ever.
06. The Lesser Lights Of Heaven - wow, what to say, this is a freaking awsome song. Great riffs, great vocals, great lyrics, this could very well be theyre next single.
07. In Times Gone Past - this song is a stretch for ZAO. Its mostly sung or monologued. A good sung but totally unexpected. You get a taste of the clean ability Scott and Russ have though. All together a decent song.
08. Praise The War Machine - holy crap this song is awesome! This is by far my favorite of the album. This song keeps your head banging till the end. It starts with twin guitars, Russ with a basic riff, by Scott doing a super quick high lick. Then the chorus hits you with, next on the assualt is the breakdown ushered in with Dan screaming out "Six! Six! Ssssssssix! I won't say anymore about this song 'cause I want it to hit you as hard as it did me.
09. Truly. Truly. This Is The End - just when you thought the assualt on your ear drums was over, this song hits you. The opening riff is awsome, with tiny stops where Dan whispers. Then theres the chorus with sung the repeated in screaming lyrics. Then the slightly off beat bridge riff. It has an awesome bass line breakdown which reminds me in a way to the song Savannah. The end is has a very emotional riff with clean vocals.
10. I Lay Sleepless In My Grave - this is a musical track that lasts about a minute and a half. All clean, it gives you a taste of what Scott and Russ's music would be like if it was clean. Very nice harmonies.
11. Psalm Of The City Of The Dead - oh my God this is an awesome song. I won't say much but this song is eight minutes long, with out a whole lot of vocals. I will say this, in certain parts there is piano, violins, cellos, even a girl singing. If you listen to this song with your eyes closed. You'll feel as if you will fligh over a destroyed and broken planet, see it fall into the despairs of hell, and then whach as you glide up to Heaven. This is one of the best musical tracks I've heard in a long time. // 9
Lyrics: Dan Weyandt is the king of metal lyrics. The poetry he uses in this album is nothing short of epic. I cannot say enough good things about the lyrics on this album. As I said earlier, they follow a certain theme: What would happen if mans dream came true? What would happen if God decided to leave us and just "go to sleep"? Nothing good as far as Mr. Weyandt is concerned. "We praise you war machine. You've come to set us free. Run us through your jaws. Carry us off in your claws." Dan is almost sarcastic in these words. Talking, I think, about how people wont to be broke asunder, how people beg to be rid of God and taken to the "War Machine" (I think Dans metaphor of satan or the antichrist). All in all I think this album is about revelations and prophecy. Dan's scream is the best scream in the industry. Period. There is so much pain, thought, anger, evenlove in a way in his scream. It sounds as if someone had just stabbed him in the stomach. The music works perfectly with the lyrics, a complete melding of the two, very very good. // 10
Overall Impression: Overall? This is my favorite album, period, over everyone else. No one does it like ZAO. Haste The Day's vocalist tries to impersonate Dan, but does a crappy job. Nobody ever has, and nobody ever will sound like ZAO. ZAO was the original and the are still the king. If the album were lost or stolen I would definitly buy a new one. If it were stolen I'd let the guy have just so he could listen to it. It's that good. // 9