There exists a small pocket of hardcore kids who will insist that one of Zao's earliest lineups -- consisting of guitarist Roy Goudy, bassist Mic Cox, singer Shawn Jonas, and drummer Jesse Smith -- was their best, despite later incarnations' popularity. It was precisely this lineup who recorded All Else Failed, the Ohio/Pennsylvania/West Virginia-based band's debut album. All Else Failed is chunky, heavy, and pummeling and derivative of the metalcore style initiated by Earth Crisis and maintained at the time of this album's release by Strife and other hardcore groups. The lyrics are very evangelical in tone, reflecting the bandmembers' then-newfound faith in Jesus Christ. This record -- released by the small Steadfast label -- earned Zao the attention of Tooth & Nail Records, who signed them to a multi-album deal. Their first recording for Tooth & Nail features six of this album's songs re-recorded. In 1999 Steadfast reissued this album with new packaging, and in 2002, the current Zao lineup, with Smith the sole remaining original member, announced plans to re-record the entire record for Solid State. Far less innovative then the albums Zao would become known for, the original version of All Else Failed is for completists only.
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AllMusic Review by Ryan Downey