Living metalcore legends Zao crank out some of the most dynamic and heaviest material in their roughly 24-year existence with Pyrrhic Victory.
Following hot on the heels of 2016’s The Well-Intentioned Virus, Pyrrhic Victory delivers five new, venomous tracks that serve as a companion piece to the aforementioned, well-received album. These five songs continue along the path its predecessor previously embarked upon, helping to fortify a new shade of Zao that is all at once gritty, brooding and complex. In a sense this new material is a perfect melding of the band’s more angular and dissonant early material (Where Blood and Fire Bring Rest, Liberate te Ex Inferis, etc), and their groovier later material (The Funeral of God, etc). Both The Well-Intentioned Virus and Pyrrhic Victory work together to usher in an exciting new era for this highly influential act.
“Drifting Shadows in Walking Dreams” kicks everything off to a nice, pummeling start with bulldozing, bouncing riffs that hammer within tight, jarring rhythms. As it progresses, the energetic metalcore fervor slows to a near Neurosian crawl that lumbers menacingly and bludgeons with each doomy riff. Daniel Weyandt’s vocals are as grim and acidic as ever and Jeff Gretz’s drumming is the perfect blend of complexity and catchy groove. All these parts come together to create the perfect violent opening to a rampaging release.
Chaos ensues in “Gifts of Flowers and Stone” as Russ Cogdell and Scott Mellinger trade six-string blows, churning out dissonant, ugly riffs in abundance. The song takes on several shapes during its short, three-minute duration. The angular riff salad that opens the song eventually bleeds into an expressive, almost “proggy” section full of soulful, soaring guitar leads. From there the song briefly returns to the cacophonous metallic burst that it began with before climaxing with a lurching, disfigured break down.
“Clawing, Clawing, Never Cutting Through” is probably the most “straightforward” track on the release, but it hits just as hard as the others. The song revolves around galloping, groove-laden riffs that switch between melodious and sinister with ease, as well as cataclysmic metallic hardcore beatdowns spiced with a little angular flavor. To keep things dynamic, Weyandt’s vocals follow the back-and-forth struggle of the instrumentation by shifting between wailing cleans and venomous screams on the drop of a dime.
The noise, dissonance and unorthodox riffing return in the penultimate track “The Host Has Bared Its Teeth”. This short but unsweet track is a headrush of nauseating rhythms and aberrated guitar riffs that rip and shred the listener to bloodied bits with its fangs. This auditory onslaught is immediately followed by another with the final track, “Feed It Pain”. Here the band assault the listener with a frenetic blend of caustic groove and spastic riff acrobatics, before transitioning into an atmospheric, almost post-metal march. This detour into ethereal sonic realms lulls the listener into a false sense of security before the band return with a final wall of dizzying riffs.
With metalcore on the rise again, Zao and Pyrrhic Victory are here to show the kids who’s boss.
Release Date: November 3, 2017
Favorite Tracks: “Gifts of Flowers and Stone” and “Feed It Pain”
For Fans Of: Norma Jean, Eighteen Visions, Misery Signals, Scarlet and Converge