It’s been almost 20 years since Zao first stepped into the hardcore scene and things haven’t been the same since.
Zao has been through it all: alternating lineups, changes in musical style, ups and downs in critical acclaim. But they’ve remained a steadfast presence in the realm of the hard and the heavy, putting out 11 albums of razor sharp guitars, unfettered aggression and some seriously heavy lyricism.
Zao, derived from the Greek word for “alive,” started under the umbrella of Christian metal, but has since evolved away from that form. That’s not to say they don’t still tread those waters: Zao’s music and lyrics are expressively deep, dark and gloomy, often drawing on themes of morality, misery and spiritual alienation.
Their latest release, 2009’s ‘Awake?,’ is a pitch perfect summary of their career sound. With songs like “Human Cattle Masses Marching Forward,” Zao reiterates the scathing, critical perspective that has narrated their songs since inception. And as with their whole catalogue, the songs on ‘Awake?’ balance a vicious foundation of heavy instruments with shrieking, intermittently melodic vocals. ‘Awake?’ is a metalcore masterpiece, a testament to their experience and proof of their ability to evolve without losing sight of their sound.
Since 1993, Zao has toured with the Warped Tour, Dillinger Escape Plan, DevilDriver and many more; they’ve released 11 studio albums; they’ve recorded with legendary producers like Steve Albini and Eric Rachel; and they’ve seen over a dozen bandmates come and go. But with a solid lineup secured and their sound at its finest, there’s no reason to believe they’ll slow down now.
‘Awake?’ is out now on Ferret Music