The discovery of a new band is always exciting. Will it be something you’ve heard countless times? An experience that leaves a bad taste in your mouth? Or is it a treat from which you cannot stop consuming? I wanted to take a trip back in time to reminisce about bands/albums that not only introduced me to heavy music, but kept me coming back for more…
From The Archive: Zao – The Funeral Of God
I don’t consider myself a religious person at all, but damn if I don’t enjoy some of the Christian bands out in the metal/hardcore scene, and not for what the preach, but for their musicianship. One group in particular where Christianity was a key influence in the band’s work (more earlier in their career), was West Virginia outfit Zao. Throughout their career, Zao has been through numerous roster changes, but the “core” lineup, which most fans consider, are drummer Jesse Smith, singer Daniel Weyandt, and guitarists Scott Mellinger & Russ Cogdell. Though being more Christian-based early on in their career, as time passed and members changed, so did their vision, and with that, they no longer considered themselves a Christian band, but rather a group of open-minded artists.
Since forming in 1993, Zao have released ten full-length albums and three EPs, but most notably is their 2004 full-length, The Funeral Of God, a concept album that imagined a world where God had chosen to abandon mankind. This album marked the return of Zao after a brief hiatus, where the band was reported broken up with no foreseeable future. The Funeral Of God saw the return of guitarist Russ Cogdell, and the addition of bassist Shawn Koschik and drummer Stephen Peck after the departure of Jesse Smith. Daniel Weyandt was back providing vocals, and this time around, sounding more vicious than ever. Prior to this release, was their 2002 album, Parade of Chaos, which showcased the band taking a more darker and experimental tone with their sound, but The Funeral Of God was something of a different beast. Whereas most of their releases were heavy in nature, this album was both heavy, extreme, dark and melodic, not to mention it was the first concept album they have ever done.
Just by listening to this album, you can feel the amount of emotions that went into it. Between the relentless barrage of guitars, the furious drumming, the clear and heavy bass hits and the vicious onslaught of vocals, this was a more aggressive release than any of Zao’s other albums. To say I was blown away upon first listen of this album, is an understatement, this album completely rejuvenated my enjoyment for Zao. Don’t get me wrong, I have all of their albums and enjoy the hell out of them, but The Funeral Of God is their greatest work to date (my opinion of course). Some may argue that Liberate Te Ex Inferis or Where Blood and Fire Bring Rest is their crowning achievement, but I firmly believe, The Funeral Of God is Zao at their peak.
But enough of my ramblings, feast your ears on this, and come to your own conclusions…
Zao – “Praise The War Machine”