This is the much-anticipated follow up to 2016’s The Well-Intentioned Virus, and although it might not be what you’re expecting, it’s exactly what you need.
Combining a richly emotive core with a savagely strong collection of songs, The Crimson Corridor once again reminds me in no uncertain terms of why Zao are so good at what they do. It’s not just the raging metallic hardcore hybrid that sits at the heart of the band, it’s also about the nuanced layering of emotions and feelings, and how this translates into multifaceted and textured music. Zao are obscenely talented in all of this, and The Crimson Corridor is a new high point in their storied career.
Across the album’s 57 minutes the band never repeat themselves, which is no mean feat. Elements of doom, sludge and post-metal are blended effortlessly into Zao’s sound, resulting in a diverse journey across a soundscape that can terrify and scar one moment, and astound with beauty and deep introspection the next. Despite the band’s heaviness and aggression, The Crimson Corridor is probably Zao at their most atmospheric and complex.
For me, The Crimson Corridor is an expansive take on Zao’s envelope-pushing aspects, (the excellent Psalm of the City of the Dead from 2004’s The Funeral of God springs to mind as an example), mixed with the raw ferocity of 2006’s The Fear Is What Keeps Us Here. Both of these are personal favourites of mine, which is probably why I love The Crimson Corridor so much. Pleasingly, it merely recalls these past highs, rather than imitates them; the latest Zao album takes the band into new territories, and is a stunning success in every way.
The Crimson Corridor has exceeded already high expectations, and rather than simply deliver another stellar collection of songs, the band have delivered a true classic.