Zao - _Liberate Te Ex Inferis_
(SolidState, 1999)
by: Alex Cantwell (9 out of 10)
Drummer Jesse Smith and an everchanging line-up have concocted a swirling, chaotic bludgeoning of the senses with _Liberate Te Ex Inferis_, the fifth release from the entity called Zao. There is quite a bit going on, musically and lyrically, on this release, and I will attempt to elaborate upon it. Firstly, _LTEI_ is seemingly built upon a Dante's "Inferno" theme, at least according to the back cover and the layout inside the booklet. However, neither the song titles nor the lyrics reflect that theme, unless I am just too dumb to realize the correlation of the lyrics to that theme. In fact, I am at a total loss regarding the meaning of the lyrics, because they are of the poetic/abstract/artsy variety. The only song that even makes any sense at all is "Desire the End", which reads: "I desire the end, the touch of armageddon, this world encased in flames, bodies lie beneath fallen kingdoms... I desire the new beginning." It also happens to be one of the album's best tracks. On to the music... Zao seems to evolve greatly with each new release. Their debut album _All Else Failed_ was very militant and rigid hardcore. The follow-up, _The Splinter Shards the Birth of Separation_, saw them venture into the death metal realm a bit, while retaining traditional hardcore shouting for vocals. With their third release, _When Blood and Fire Bring Rest_ [CoC #34], they abandoned the hardcore vocals for those of the black metal variety, being the first hardcore band to do this (to the best extent of my knowledge), and the music went up several notches in creativity and intensity. Zao have achieved similar results with their latest release, and the listening experience makes me manic and jubilant at the same time. In the January 1999 issue of Metal Maniacs, Candiria bassist Micheal Macivor was quoted as stating: "I think nowadays the fusion between metal and hardcore has become so intertwined that there's really not that much definition anymore between the two, from a musical perspective", and I couldn't agree more, with bands like Zao, Training for Utopia, Coalesce and many more laying waste to any barriers that other hardcore bands had pressed up against. _LTEI_ is a piece of the present and the future at once -- a glorious achievement of modern metal extremity and a look into the future of what many young bands with a hardcore ethic and a thirst for brutality may try to attain.

(article published 9/12/1999)

10/14/2006 J Smit Zao: Angels Without Wings
6/27/2006 J Smit 8 Zao - The Fear Is What Keeps Us Here
6/3/2003 X Hoose 7 Zao - All Else Failed
3/31/2003 A McKay 7 Zao - Parade of Chaos
3/13/2001 A McKay 8.5 ZAO - ZAO
10/1/1998 A Cantwell 9 Zao - Where Blood and Fire Bring Rest
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