A staple of the annual Cornerstone festivals, Zao is perhaps the first metalcore band with roots in the Christian music scene to enjoy a credible, respected position in the mainstream halls of the hardcore and metal realms. Their Carcass-inspired vocals have inspired a slew of imitators of their own. Multi-instrumentalist/drummer/founding member Jesse Smith has long been recognized as one of the best percussionists in heavy music. And the band's lack of apprehension about straying from proven formulas, genre restrictions, and labels of any kind is astounding. Their live performances are nearly a thing of legend in the underground, with bandmembers often flailing about, emoting, and connecting with the crowd with intense passion.