Happy 2011. To celebrate a new year, I will start things off with one of one of West Virginia's more successful bands.
Zao was founded in 1993 in Parkersburg, and was one of the first bands coined as metalcore. According to Wikipedia, the founding members claimed to have a relationship with God, so in turn were considered a Christian band, which changed as time passed. Zao has endured numerous roster changes over the years - at one point re-establishing the group in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. For many years, drummer Jesse Smith was the only founding member in the band, and even he eventually quit in 2004.
To date, Zao has released 10 full-length albums on labels such as Solid State/Tooth & Nail and Ferret. It was only the band's first two albums - All Else Failed (1995) and The Splinter Shards the Birth of Separation (1997) that feature the original Parkersburg-based roster. Zao's debut All Else Failed was eventually re-recorded and re-released in 2003 by a newer line-up. The original album, though more traditional hardcore and less metal (and much better) than the band's later style is still a passionate and chaotic combination of genres and instrumentation that combines the emotion of Unbroken, the aggression of early Strife, and the tension of Creation is Crucifixion. This band has lived a long, successful life for a reason and here is where it started. (I will follow up with The Splinter Shards later this week.)
Album: All Else Failed
For Fans Of: Strife, Unbroken, Creation is Crucifixion
DOWNLOAD: Zao - All Else Failed