|Zao: A Discography Ranking|
So in a few short months, Zao has become my favourite metal act of all-time. Might be a little too early to set a definitive ranking but I'm confident that things won't move too drastically with time.
The Fear Is What Keeps Us Here
I'm not going to mince words here: I found this practically unlistenable. The production is thick and relentless and anything interesting or noteworthy is buried under this heavy wall of sound. It's just a mess. Worst Zao by far in my book.
On its own, this wasn't a bad record, just an awfully average and unmemorable one.
All Else Failed (2003)
Tied with All Else Failed 1994. It was a solid debut for the band and the re-recorded version in 2003 was just as strong. However, there isn't much that brings me back to it.
The Splinter Shards the Birth of Separation
From here on everything is pretty much gold. This was a seemingly unremarkable sophomore at first glance but I was immediately drawn in by the *vacant* atmosphere if I could describe it as such. It feels and sounds like a group of lonely teens jamming in an abandoned warehouse late at night. Even if the music itself isn't terribly memorable that aesthetic is what keeps me coming back.
Parade of Chaos
Parade of Chaos is, well....chaotic. Some of Zao's defining moments are on here along with some of their weakest (mainly coming out of the clean vocal hooks). However, songs like the title track, "Free the Three," and especially "A Pirates Prayer" make this an absolute gem.
A weirdy produced record, to be sure, but a fantastic one all the same. It's one of Zao's most varied and experimental efforts and showed that they could pull off a softer style with ease.
The Funeral of God
The "cleanest" Zao record from a production standpoint. After branching out to more experimental waters with (self-titled) and Parade of Chaos the band needed to craft a return to form as brilliant as this. And I think they managed to pull it off.
Where Blood and Fire Bring Rest
The classic Zao record. It was a landmark record for Christian metal and it remains a treasure to this day.
The Well-Intentioned Virus
After two dreadfully sub-par records, it seemed inconceivable for the band to craft another masterpiece. Oh how wrong we were. Virus is one of the most vicious and awesome sounding metalcore releases to come out in years. Tired of the high and whiny boyband vocals of modern metalcore? Look no further.
Liberate Te Ex Inferis
The ultimate Zao record, in my humble opinion. It's brutally heavy, beautifully dark, at times creepy, and deceptively infectious. Dan's vocals are monstrous and the music that carries him is even more so. It's the record that made me fall in love with Zao and realize that they were writing some of the most well-crafted metal I had ever heard.