Zao destroys. Forget that they have NO original members. Forget that they used to only play for the Lord. Also forget that they have tried to find (and then toured and recorded) with vocalists that emulated Dan's agonizing growls, only falling ridiculously short. They are the most brutal band I've ever heard. I know there are bands like Bloodbath and Cannibal Corpse and such, that sound like death and dying and cookie monster (although the new Bloodbath EP is super-awesome), but Zao was always (is?) always real and sang/played from the heart.
As with most bands that change singers ad lineups (Van Halen, Anthrax, Iron Maiden, Fates Warning, etc), fans are divided into two camps for Zao: Those who go to Cornerstone and are Jesus groupies and those who love Dan Weyandt's voice/lyrics, which have become what the band is and has been focused around since he joined in 1998. He sounds like Heartwork-era Carcass, At The Gates and old In Flames all wrapped into a nice little package. He literally sounds like he gargles with rusty razorblades and gravel. It's intense and amazing and definitely not for everyone.
With every release they get more brutal, making true metal classics like 2000's Self-Titled (which is the name of the LP, not Zao), The Funeral of God, the overly brutal Steve Albini-produced The Fear is What Keeps Us Here and my favorite, the often overlooked Parade of Chaos. They seriously have the power and raw emotion to make other genuine bands look like fakes. I finally got to see them live a few years ago and they opened with "5 Year Winter", a hammering love/break-up letter written to an ex. It even begins "Dear Tiffany...".
I don't know what it is about Jews like myself and some of my other metal friends that love Christian Hardcore and Metal. Maybe having the shit screamed at us works. Who knows and who cares? All I know is that Zao sounds like they could kill you with words and riffs and probably could if given the opportunity.
"My Love, My Love (We've Come Back From The Dead":
"The Rising End":