"Maybe the scariest and coolest album ever made." That was the perfect slogan to help market the third installment in Zao's dark saga. By this time in 1999, Where Blood And Fire Bring Rest had revolutionized hardcore metal and Zao was ready to capitalize on their success with Liberate Te Ex Inferis, which means "Save Yourself From Hell." This album has been admired by many musicians in and out of the Christian music scene and still holds true to this day as a metal masterpiece. Guitarist Scott Mellinger was brought in, as their new permanent lead guitar player who would bring a much darker and heavier version of Zao that was never heard before. Liberate is their third studio album with Solid State Records as well as their second attempt to move away from the original openly Christian version of Zao.
Upon listening to the intro track, you will discover that this will be a wild ride by musicians who are very heavily influenced by the production design of Neurosis. "Intro" starts off very slow with a few minor guitar parts and quickly picks up into a full metal song. Towards the end of the interlude, we hear Dan Weyandt say, "That was nothing. That was only a word. Reality is much, much worse." "Savannah," as well as a majority of Zao songs, deals with some of the hypocrisy that takes place in Christianity. The words to "Savannah" tell the story of a dying porn star while a group of believers stand by and do nothing to help her, "They can't believe the machine was alive but we saw it bleed, The machine falls apart and when it's cut it bleeds, The machine bleeds, She was alive."
"Autopsy" offers a more uplifting message as Dan asks for spiritual help from above, "I can't see it but I feel the light, Someone tell us we are loved, Someone take the pain away, Someone fill up the void, Someone fix my broken heart, Are you that someone?" Musically, "If These Scars Could Speak," "The Ghost Psalm," and "Skin Like Winter" are great songs but it was a little difficult to see what Dan was trying to convey lyrically. "Desire The End" is also a noteworthy track about eagerly awaiting the end of all things and the return of Jesus Christ, "I desire the end, The touch of Armageddon, This world encased in flames, I desire the end, I desire the new beginning." The album comes to a close with the instrumental track, "Man In Cage (Jack Wilson)." The last song seems a bit slow, but "Man In Cage" closes the album in a perfect way and offers something a little different from Zao's previous releases.
As far as complaints go, I was a little concerned with some of the dialogue from the movies Deceiver and Event Horizon being used on certain tracks such as "The Ghost Psalm." Hearing the question, "Do you want to make a deal? Cut a deal with the devil?" before the song begins just felt unnecessary. Another downfall with Liberate is the fact that a few songs were not clear enough to understand, which was also the problem with "The Ghost Psalm." Despite two minor flaws, however, the album is a truly dark and beautiful masterpiece. Fans of Haste The Day, As I Lay Dying, and Killswitch Engage need to do themselves a favor and check out this album to see where their favorite hardcore bands got their influences.- Review date: 6/15/08, written by Fred Keel of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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