ZAO Guitarist RUSS COGDELL To Leave Band?

Jeff Gretz, drummer for ZAO and frequent poster on the forum of ZAO fan site BleedZao.com, has confirmed that Russ Cogdell, longtime guitar player for the Pittsburgh post-hardcore outfit, is leaving ZAO. Russ is known for his crazy jumps on stage, landing on his knees — which apparently caused some serious problems not too long ago; so serious that he had to undergo surgery to correct the problem. According to Gretz, ZAO have no plans to replace Cogdell and will continue as a four-piece while leaving the door open for Russ to return if he chooses to do so.

In other news, ZAO guitarist Scott Mellinger recently spoke to MTV.com about the recording of the group's new album, which is taking place in the Chicago studio of legendary producer/engineer Steve Albini (PIXIES, NIRVANA, NEUROSIS, HIGH ON FIRE). The follow-up to 2004's "The Funeral of God" is scheduled for release late May via Ferret

"We came here not knowing what to expect but being prepared and knowing what we wanted to do," Mellinger explained. "We rehearsed for about three months before we got here, so we knew what we wanted to sound like and what these songs were all about. So when we got here, we just started busting it out. The thing about Steve is, he records you — he doesn't produce you. He makes you what you are. You need to know who you are. He can't tell you who you are.

"A lot of records that come out today don't have life to them. They don't have that natural feeling of a band playing," he added. "This is definitely the most abrasive record we've ever done, and being able to do it live has changed a lot [on this album], because you actually get to put the energy of a song back into the song. You can really hear that on this record. It sounds like a band just destroying things, and Dan's vocal delivery sounds unhinged."

The as-yet-untitled new album will feature 11 tracks, including "Physician, Heal Thyself", "American Sheep on the Deathbed" and "It's Hard Not to Shake With a Gun in Your Mouth". The sessions will wrap before the band's upcoming tour with IN FLAMES, TRIVIUM and DEVILDRIVER, which commences in Tempe, Arizona, January 25.

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