Zao Crimson Corridor Review

July 8, 2023
David Sunnyside

After 32 years and a series of band changes, metalcore titans Zao sound as refreshed as ever. Whether evoking the brutality of Sprinter Shards or the visceral angst of Liberate Te Ex Inferis, Zao have turned their sights on new territory with The Crimson Corridor. Unlike many bands who release albums simply to placate fans or their labels, the seasoned troupe are not afraid to experiment and explore sounds outside of their comfort zone.

The record demonstrates a level of maturity that can only come from years of experience on the stage. While Zao do occasionally fall into annoying metalcore cliches, their razor sharp musicianship is enough to make up for the few times they deviate from their own style.

From chugging beatdowns to uptempo pop punk and Black Metal-like vocals, the album is never short of inventive riffs and thumping drums. The droning bass lines of opener "Into the Jaws of Dread" and the gnashing riffs of lead single "Ship of Theseus" showcase a mastery of depth and nuance not seen since the band's prime.

The 10-minute epic closer "The Web" reflects this challenge with a relentlessly growing wall of disjointed chugs and pinch harmonics. The band's apprehension of abandoning their own style may seem risky, but it's also what allows them to push themselves into the sludge and post-metal realms without sounding contrived or overly-ambitious. The record may not be as catchy or immediately gratifying as some of their most popular songs, but The Crimson Corridor is one of the most ambitious metalcore records to hit this year.

David Sunnyside
Co-founder of Urban Splatter • Digital Marketer • Engineer • Meditator
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