With interest in their sound and the band themselves reinvigorated — just look the prices their merchandise is going for on eBay and Facebook merch swap groups alike — Zao could easily have returned to their earlier sounds, but on The Well-Intentioned Virus, they focused on progression, rather than cashing in.
Sure, their first song back ("Xenophobe") is rerecorded here, and does a hell of a job recalling their Y2K-aotic sound and Dan Weyandt's corrosive vocals, but it's preceded by the Neurosis-ian "Apocalypse" and steady singing. And lest those two styles sound at odds with each other, tracks like "Broken Pact Blues" and "Observed/Observer" make them work. Sludge soaks the album, too, with early Mastodon-esque riffs on "The Weeping Vessel" and throughout, and even an airy Crack the Skye progression on "Haunting Pools."
That's not to say this album is a rip-off of any of the aforementioned bands; rather, it serves to show how expansive Zao have pushed their sound to become. The Well-Intentioned Virus is their best album in over a decade, picking up where The Funeral of God left off in terms of quality while nailing the progression they've been pursuing since. (Observed/Observer Recordings)