Thursday, April 1, 2010

ZAO: Early Demos

I've always been curious as to how certain Christian bands manage to write the most disgusting music of all time. The answer, I've realized, is that whenever you are crazy enough to believe in the lord OR the devil ... then you should probably be pronounced legally insane and, in turn, are also probably capable of writing some seriously evil music.

Putting myself in a mindset that allows me to believe that the devil is a legitmate being has made me realize how some christian bands feel so fucking motivated to write the insane music that they do. Seriously ... how the fuck did Zao write Liberate Te Ex Inferis ... and how did Disembodied come up with If God Only Knew The Rest Were Dead? By the grace of god and/or Lucifer; that's how.

As for why I'm talking about all of this; I essentially realized that a lot of my recent compositions mirror that of early Zao. I'm not talking Splinter Shards The Birth Of Separation ... I'm talking about their first two demos and split seven inches. I'm assuming that most people aren't even aware of the existence of these releases. Well, that's what I'm here for ... let me tell you all about them.

Zao's debut demo was titled "Author" and was self-released in 1994 on the almighty cassette format. Of course there were some black and white stickers of some obscure angels on the thing. To be honest, the thing sounds like dog shit and most of the songs suck. As with most of the albums I post on here, the feeling is just there. The energy seeping through the poorly played metallic riffs and dreary acoustics is what gets me. You really have to be a fan to get through this one, but if you truly are ... the gems are there to be found.

The follow-up offering was entitled "Sustained" and was actually worth pressing to a legit cassette. The progression made between 1994 and 1995 was quite noteworthy for this young Christian outfit from West Virginia. The band focused on fewer songs (5 on this one as opposed to 9 on the debut) and it apparently paid off. It wouldn't be until the release of their split with Outcast that the band would truly find its stride, however. Also released in 1995, the songs "Flight" and "Security" are light years ahead of anything found on the Sustained demo.

This split would prove to be the final recording featuring their original vocalist. Just in time for the recording of their split with Through And Through, the band happened upon the best thing that ever happened to them ... Shawn Jonas. Owning possibly the sickest vocals in hardcore at the time (and possibly even today), this guy has gone on record saying that he wanted Zao to become "the Earth Crisis of christian hardcore". This guy was not kidding around when it came to proclaiming the name of the Lord. I think the Lord, our saviour, knew this guy was going to be preaching his word because he was certainly blessed with quite a set of lungs. While Zao only got one track on this offering, Repressed (which would also be re-recorded for their debut LP, All Else Failed) makes it impression right off the bat.

The intensity of a militant Christian band from the backwoods of West Virginia in 1994 can never, and will never, be topped.


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