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Liberate Te Ex Inferis (Save Yourself From Hell)
Artist - Zao
Label: Solid State/Tooth and Nail Records
Length: 10 Tracks/41.07 minutes

The first thing that grabs you about the new Zao disc, other than the huge eye on the front, is the Latin title. Now take a look at the back; the disc is divided into five movements. Has Zao gone all epic on us, a la Saviour Machine? No, although their newest album has take a decided turn for the darker, compared to their earlier work.

Where Zao’s first Solid State disc, The Splinter Shards the Birth of Separation, was in many respects a hardcore praise and worship disc, Liberate Te Ex Inferis deals with something of a more earthy nature--the ongoing struggle of man facing a seemingly hopeless world.

The five movement titles, it is explained in the cover booklet, come from Dante’s Inferno, representing his five principal rings of Hell. There are two tracks per movement, with the first and last tracks of the album being either completely or mostly instrumental.

Musically, Zao is one of the few non-hybrids around. This is straight-up hardcore: furiously-paced drums replete with cymbal crashes, heavily distorted guitars, anguished vocals. When this comes bursting forth after an acoustic intro (45 seconds into track 4, “If These Scars Could Speak”), it has the power to surprise, something few bands in a crowded scene do.

Lyrically, the album seems to be one 40+-minute impassioned scream for help, with such catching lyrics as:

Someone tell us we are loved
Someone take the pain away
Someone fill up the void,
Somone fix up my broken heart...
(from “Autopsy”)
and:
This world encased in flames...
I desire the end
I desire the new beginning...
(from “Desire the End”)
It seems that Zao’s many member changes, and their new lyricist, have combined to bring a much darker edge to this band; While the album screams for help, nowhere is the Helper even really hinted at, except in the band’s “thank you”s.

Sonically and artistically, this is a well-made disc; the vocals are as intelligible as any you’ll hear in the genre, while the cover is well laid out and easy to read.

Overall, this is a fine disc for most hardcore listeners. If you want your music directly praising God, this isn’t the disc for that; but if you’d just like to scream at the world for a bit, this album can help you do it.
 

Josh Marihugh 3/14/2000

The latest album that Zao has stirred up is a thick and hearty feast for all of you who love Deathcore. The concept behind this album is awesome and quite original. It digs deep into some of the ideas from Dante's Inferno. There are ten songs in five groups; the five groups represent the five circles of hell. These songs are dark and stay right with the theme, while the lyrics are descriptive and foreboding adding to the sense of helplessness and pain. 
 
This album successfully shows that no one can save themselves from hell, but it fails to say that Jesus can. Perhaps they wanted to stay within the concept of the album, but this may be art taken too far (a controversial topic). They missed their chance to point towards hope in "Desire the End":
 
I desire the end
The touch of Armageddon
This world encased in flames…
Bodies lie beneath fallen kingdoms…
…I walk on fallen kingdoms…
…I desire the end
…I desire the new beginning.
 
After reading the band members' "thank-you's," I could tell they desire Jesus Christ and that they have found "The New Beginning" but wish their lyrics said the same. This album is awesome. It has the ferocity to make peoples' heads turn; hopefully hearts will turn as well.
 
Without a doubt, these guys are good; you just have to take the time to find the beauty in the storm. The vocals are full, the drumming is more than ample, and the riffage is creative. I usually only like a couple of riffs in a whole album, but Zao really hides good riffs in each song. Overall, I like this album a lot due to the expressive lyrics, the intense music, and the creative style. For an easy example of their creative style look no further than "Skin Like Winter." In this song they add clapping to their already 
creative beats. Whoever heard of clapping to the beat in this kind of music? It's something new and they weave it in well.
 
I do not know how well this album will be received in these days of instant gratification and bubble gum pop. But I, for one, really like it. 
 
Matt Cilderman 8/28/2000
 
 

Matt Cilderman is also a dj for Reborn Radio.  All of his reviews and the show can also be found at Reborn Radio.

 
 
 

 

   
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