If you know this band then you know that first line as soon as you read it...

Strongarm

I never knew all that much about Strongarm but holy shit these two songs were my jam in the late 1990s / early 2000's.

I love how emotionally hard they hit, like a punch in the chest, with lyrics criss crossing between love and personal faith (yelp!) making good subject matter to evoke that full bodied gotta-scream-this-shit-from-my-soul feeling.

Super early live footage of Strongarm playing in a crowded audience at the Canton Y. (not sure what that is but I found it in the comments - presumably in Southern Florida?)

Love this footage with the band and the crowd on top of one another singing and playing.

I never got to see this band live, as they broke up in 1998, right around the time I found them. I see now there last show was at Cornerstone (a huge 3 day christian music festival in BFE, Illinois) in 1998, which is making me think about the time I almost went to c-stone - and shit would I have been there for this?. Hmm...

• 20th anniversary podcast with the band

• sweet blog post on Strongarm

Zao

There's a special little groove in my heart that belongs to Zao, my favorite Christian metalcore band for sure.

The era that released 1998's Where Blood and Fire Bring Rest rips so hard.

And then there's the cute boy with eyeliner thing happening on the cover of Liberate Te Ex Inferis. Bold for a group branded as a Christian metalcore band, eh?

These songs are melodic and aggressive, with the melancholy found on Blood and Fire turning into pure despair by the time we get to Liberate. Seriously, what a sad album, but I mean that only in the most amazing way.

I remember yacking on & on with my friend on AIM about how beautiful these lyrics are, and shit maybe I should get it tattoo'd on my arm?*

*didn't happen

Here's some awesome live footage from 1999 from VCR Vintage Christian Recordings:

Track Listing:

Side A
1. Strongarm – The Advent of a Miracle
2. Strongarm – These Times That Try Men’s Souls

Side B
1. Zao – Autopsy
2. Zao – Lies of Serpents, A River of Tears