Sound — 8
You unwrap the CD and hurry to shove it in the CD player in anticipation. From the first second on, the low-freq heavily-distorted guitars set in, setting the scene for (maybe not the fastest, but) one of the most energetic metal bands. This isn't as melodic as I prefer and usually listen to, I admit, but it has to be one of the most in-your-face metal bands I've ever heard.
Lyrics — 10
I understand that it's Weyandt's trademark screams that win people over, but it wouldn't hurt to sing once in a while. I'm sure screaming hurts your vocal chords more. Lyricwise, now, they address a lot of issues like forgiveness, sin, depression, and diligence. "A Fall Farewell" and "Ember" were my favorites that seemed most powerful to me. My favorite things about the lyrics is that they matched well with the music and they weren't overly dark and depressing.
Overall Impression — 8
Another thing, they're a lot more original than a lot of other bands I've heard because of their use of a lot of variation within the metal genre, like their dramatic build-ups, breakdowns. And since when have you heard any acoustic guitar at all in metal tracks. The only thing I'd probably like better than Zao is Demon Hunter.