Zao is a powerhouse of the metalcore scene, following the example of genre icons Earth Crisis, forging a hardcore/metal act unafraid of dabbling in other genres, and becoming known for passionate performances. But where Earth Crisis' sociopolitical stance is decidedly secular, Zao is faith-based, working the Christian music and Cornerstone festival circuit like a dope dealer does the corner on payday. One can't avoid the analogy as the band forges on without Jesse Smith, the act's visionary founder. (The new lineup features Dan Wyandt, providing the Carcass-style vocal growl, and guitarist Russ Cogdell, who date back to the band's second incarnation/album, and have been in and out of the lineup several times.) But if the band definitely misses Smith's exemplary percussion skills on... More >>>