By this point Zao are pretty much a musical institution, despite this being their first album since 2009’s Awake?.
The Fear Is What Keeps Us Here is probably my favourite Zoe release. The utterly catchy chaotic savagery of it still blows me away to this day. The Well Intentioned Virus is probably somewhere between that and one of their more polished albums, such as The Funeral of God. Make no mistake though; although it might not be as raw and bleeding as the former, it’s definitely still full of ferocious savagery and aggressive brutality, although this time around these are also accompanied by moments of heartbreaking emotion and transcendent beauty.
This intensity is due in no small part to their formidable singer, of course. The screaming rasps of their easily-identifiable vocalist are a welcome sound once more. If anything, his voice sounds better than ever, with a really raw, nasty edge to his already vicious screams. On The Well-Intentioned Virus though we also find his vocals added to by clean singing too, to great effect.
The songs on this latest release are every bit as good as you would hope/expect from Zao. The band have always trodden the fine line between aggression and nuance; sometimes going over into one territory more than the other, but always incorporating elements of both to some degree or another in all of their work. This is no different, and in many ways the songs on this latest release exemplify this even more. The aggression is here in spades, but it’s not without its subtlety or texture. Zao know exactly what they’re doing with their bright, shiny knives.
Zao are also inventive and creative with their music, which is nothing new in and of itself. That they still manage to do this so well, sounding so fresh and passionate, however, is definitely worthy of applause.
The songs on The Well-Intentioned Virus sell themselves. One need only give them a cursory listen before they draw you in and you’re theirs. As soon as you hear their latest work, any subconscious fears you may have had about Zao not being as good as they once were, (or whatever), are forgotten. If anything, I’d say that this is one of their best works, and that’s saying something.
Unmissable, as far as I’m concerned, this is nothing sort of essential for anyone into heavy, emotive music.