By far one of the most alternately stark, gripping, and emotional offerings ever produced by the heavy music genre, this album is considered by most fans to be the definitive Zao work. After the dissolution of the band's prior incarnation, original member, drummer, and songwriter Jesse Smith assembled a new lineup that included guitarists Russ Cogdell and Brett Detar (who would later play for the Juliana Theory) and poetically inclined, screechingly devastating vocalist Daniel Weyandt. Lyrically, this album addresses the death of loved ones, religious issues, and in-depth personal examination with forthright honesty and daring emotional bravery, all backed by walloping walls of heavy metallic sounds and mournful guitar lines. Smith's drumming is impeccable and the songs are all driving, heart-tugging anthems that sound pained and devastatingly cathartic all at once. It features sharp, hissed, Carcass-like vocals that have been imitated by countless bands in the wake of this album's release. A definitive album from what has proven to be one of the most important bands in the metalcore genre.
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AllMusic Review by Ryan Downey