The Phantom Tollbooth

split ep
Artist: Training for Utopia/Zao
Label: Solid State
Time: 17:40

When two of best bands on the Solid State roster unite for a split EP, you know you're in for a treat. The disc has two new songs from each band, making for some serious noise. Where else can you find the frenzied chaos of Training for Utopia with the intense death metal of Zao, and on the same disc?  Of the two bands, I found myself liking the Training for Utopia songs better, the Zao tracks coming across as less intense and tight then the new songs from Training for Utopia.   
 
The first Training for Utopia song, "Modus Operandi," starts out with a solid speed riff, then moves off into some intensely chaotic vocals. The first Zao song, "Skin Like Winter," uses some steady riffing to get you into it, then brings in the pounding drums and guitars that were used so successfully on their last album.  The second Training for Utopia song, "Police John, Police Red," starts out with an eerie-sounding acoustic guitar and some actual singing, but then switches over to the chaos that is their sound.  The second Zao song, "Walk On By, Walk On Me (The Pianist's Prophecy), while not really memorable, uses more of their heavy riffing and blast beats to carry the song.
 
So, if your liked the last albums by these artists, then you'll probably like this EP, as it basically picks up where the two bands left off with their last albums.  This disc is well worth the money, delivering some solid, if not spectacular, songs by two great bands.
 
By Joe Rockstroh  (9/25/98)