Zao started out as a hardcore band and evolved into the heavy grinding death/thrash band. Drummer Jesse Smith is the only constant member in an ever chaning line-up. Also, despite their tough sound, their image is still the nerdy modern punk/harcore image with the goofy sweaters, short geek haircuts and baggy pants--basically they look like the guys who always got beat up in high school. I don't know why, but a majority of the bands on Tooth & Nail and Solid State have this ridiculous look. Some have even adopted the name Geekcore. (Ah, I think that is a trend that I will avoid like the plague.)

Where Blood & Fire REst Zao - Where Blood & Fire Bring Rest (Solid State) 1998

1. "Lies of Serpents, a River of Tears" (2:39)
2. "To Think of You is to Treasure an Absent Memory" (4:27)
3. "A Fall Farewell" (2:56)
4. "March" (3:51)
5. "Ember" (2:26)
6. "Ravage Ritual" (3:15)
7. "Fifteen Rhema" (3:33)
8. "For a Fair Decision" (3:03)
9. "The Latter Rain" (6:28)
10. "Violet" [instrumental] (7:18)

This album is just intense! I have no other words to describe it. The vocals are of the black metal variety, but the music is more in line with Slayer than anything else, although they mix in some hardcore and modern metal influences as well. Try sitting still while this disc is being played. There are a few surprises musically as well, like in the beautiful and serene piano instrumental "Violet" and in the moments the there is actually some melody mixed in with the chaotic grind. This is just a killer disc from a band I thought was just another cookie-cutter hardcore Tooth & Nail band. Killer cover art as well. I believe this is their third release; the first was released independently and the second, "The Splinter Shards the Birth of Separation," is on Tooth & Nail.

split cd w/ Training for Utopia Training for Utopia/Zao (Solid State) 1998

1.   "Modus Operandi" -Training for Utopia (4:32)
2.   "Skin Like Winter" -Zao (2:26)
3.   "Police John, Police Red" -Training for Utopia (7:44)
4.   "Walk On By, Walk On Me (The Pianist's Prophecy)" -Zao (3:02)

Sounding like a mix of Slayer, Napalm Death, and Emporer, Zao come close to tying with their friends Training for Utopia for the most chaotic sound.Together this is one violent sounding EP.

liberate le ex inferis Zao - liberate le ex inferis (Solid State) 1999

Circle I Limbo
1 "Intro (3:38)
2. "Savannah (2:46)
Circle II the Lustful
3. "Autopsy (2:12)
4. "If These Scars... (4:43)
Circle III the Gluttonous
5. "the Ghost Psalm (5:42)
6. "Desire the End (4:58)
Circle IV the Hoarders and the Spendthrifts
7. "Dark Cold Sound" (3:10)
8. "Skin Like Winter" (2:23)
Circle V the Wrathful
9. "Kathleen Barbra (3:35)
10. "Man in Cage Jack Wilson" (7:00)

I listened to this disc several times and still could not come up with a good description. The best I could come up with is that it sounds like a war between a hardcore band and a black metal band. The vocals are of the shrill black metal variety, but the music, according to my many friends on the DZ Board is pure metalcore. Seriously though, this spastic metalcore disc has a heavy Carcass influence and will peal the paint off your house. It's also handy for 5:30 AM drives to work in place of coffee. There will be no dozing off with these guy blaring from your speakers. I told someone in a chat room that I equated Zao to cheap vodka, it doesn't taste so good, but it'll sure kick you in the butt. Anyhow, according to the liner notes, this disc is a concept album based on Dante's Inferno. Couldn't tell from the music, guess you'd have to read the lyrics.

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