ZAO drummer Jeff Gretz has released a statement to BLABBERMOUTH.NET regarding the rumoured departure of guitarist Russ Cogdell and the group’s plans for the future. His statement reads as follows: “Russ’s departure wasn’t officially released as a statement from the band because there is no statement to make. His knee injury was well documented after our early exit from Warped Tour and subsequent outing with UNEARTH and THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN that we were forced to do without him. His current status is that he is not in proper health to tour and work on the record. We did not announce it because we felt there was nothing to announce, the music would speak for itself. Of the eight prior studio albums that ZAO has recorded, Russ has played on three (he had left once before and returned only for ‘Funeral of God’). The core of ZAO’s writing has been Dan Weyandt and Scott Mellinger for the past five albums (Dan going back even one more than that). The band is perfectly happy with the current situation (as is Russ) and the door is open for him to return when he is willing/able. For years, Scott was the only touring guitarist for ZAO, Russ’s involvement was more the exception than the rule. Now, you may continue with your Christ-core jokes and suggestions for us when or when not to end our band. MESHUGGAH!!!!” ZAO are currently recording their new album at 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. In other news, ZAO guitarist Scott Mellinger recently spoke to MTV.com about the recording of the group’s forthcoming full length. “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 -Everything You Love Will Soon Fly Away -American Sheets on the Deathbed -Killing Time Until It’s Time To Die -Kingdom Of Thieves -Pudgy Young Blondes With Lobotomy Eyes -A Last Time For Everything.