A Rediscovery

I think it has been since Mark at Codex Markianus mentioned last.fm that I have had a rediscovery of hardcore/punk. Shortly before I came to Christ, I cleaned up my idiot ways and adopted a form of moralism called Straightedge. Simply put, Straightedge is a simplification of Christian ethics; belief in God, or anything metaphysical for that matter, is wholly optional. My first taste of Straightedge was through the band that coined the term. Well known in the 80s punk scene in America, the godfathers of straightedge, Minor Threat, became one of my instant favourites. In highschool, I had been greatly into bands like Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, etc. As I renounced the liftestyle that went with those bands, I also renounced their music. I adopted the ethic of Straightedge, namely no smoking, drinking, sex or drugs. Out with the long hair, in with the shaved head. Gone was the granola rock, in came punk rock and its various extreme forms such as hardcore, metal, emo, etc. Away with the bong, in with the skateboard.
A number of months after adopting this new lifestyle, I was converted to Christ. Because Straightedge had no spiritual distinctions, one could be Straightedge and adopt any belief system (hence there are Mormon Straighteders, Krishna, Atheist…you name it). Mine was Christianity, and soon enough I found out that many Christians also adopted the Straightedge moniker. I felt quite at home.
One of the identifying factors of a Straightedger is the large X’s drawn with a thick, black marker on the top of the hand. This logo was adopted from concert-halls that didn’t serve alcohol to minors. To distinguish the underagers, an X was put on their hand so that they would not be sold libations. The X of Straightedge became an identity marker for me, of course along with the cross of Christ and ultimately a circumcised heart.
The more I got into the Straightedge scene, the more I got into the music. And not only Straightedge bands like Earth Crisis, Snapcase, Minor Threat, etc. But various Christian hardcore/punk bands. Some of my favourites were No Innocent Victim, Figure Four, xdisciplex AD and Zao. The latter easily being one of the most creative “crossover” bands I’ve ever heard.
My punk-rock renaissance in the last week or so has involved Zao (the Greek word for “alive”). Their new album, The Fear Is What Keeps Us Here, is absolutely mind blowing. They have progressed into a heavier and darker sound, much different from their amazing album, Where Blood and Fire Bring Rest.
Zao has had a significant number of member changes over their existence. In fact, there are no original members left, although the singer, Dan Weyandt, has been with them for quite a while. It is his distinct sounding voice that has really put Zao on the map as one of the premiere metal bands. He sounds almost serpantile.
I was saddened to hear that Zao is essentially a non-Christian band. They had their beginnings as being explicitly Christian in their religious commitment. There lyrics were powerful and very Christ-centred. Slowly, with the coming of Weyandt, they went from expressing an outward-looking desire for God’s glory to an inward looking testimony of God’s work. At the time this didn’t seem at all bad, but it does provide a helpful hindsight look at the degression in their overall spirituality. Although Weyandt appears to consider himself a believer, it is no longer a defining mark of the band. It’s too bad really, because their sound, mixed with biblical imagery, was a real charge to the old adrenaline.
Click the link here for more Zao. Warning, it ain’t for the faint of heart. A click of the link will bring instant streaming audio of their recent album, so make sure you don’t have your volume cranked if you’re in the office!
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2 Comments

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2 responses to “A Rediscovery

  1. Tim Challies

    Those Zao guys sound angry. I get a sore throat just listening to them.

  2. Ian

    No worse than Bob Dylan screaming “How does it feeeeeel!!!” live in concert the first time he went electric.

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