Sunday 5 March 2017

New Music: Introducing - Zeal & Ardor

There’s a first time for everything and this is undoubtedly the first time that Breaking More Waves has featured black metal combined with delta blues slave music on the blog. Yes you read that right. Black metal + delta blues slave music. 

The creator of this unusual mix is one Manuel Gagneux, who goes by the name of Zeal & Ardor and to give you an idea of how this unusual combination of two disparate styles of music sounds, I think it’s best to simply quote the text stated on Manuel's Bandcamp page: “Imagine this: Django sacrifices a goat on stage while intimidating slave chants roar and screeching guitar riffs burn in the background. Then the rhythmic chain rattling evoking a satanic summoning makes way for the eerily familiar melodies of Norwegian black metal.” Yep, this is something different – but you really need to hear it.

Zeal & Ardor is one, in fact probably the only, act that I’ve ever featured on Breaking More Waves that I wholeheartedly dislike in many parts. Gagneux’s album, Devil Is Fine, which clocks in at just under half an hour is for me, in places, unlistenable; a horrendous cacophony of screaming, noise and drums hit at such speed that I’m surprised nobody had a heart attack whilst recording them. It’s music spawned from beyond hell. Yet amongst the flaming demonic extremes of this disturbing stuff, if you stick with it, you’ll find experimental electronica, blues, gospel chants, retro jazz and vocals that sound like they’ve been sampled from 1930’s recordings, but are actually just Gagneux singing very loudly into a poor-quality microphone. It’s a record like no other I’ve heard for some time, possibly ever, and whilst some of it is way too extreme for my tastes, it’s a fascinating and unusual piece of work. It's also one that at its best, where the pedal is mainly kept off the metal, as on the title track below, will give you goosebumps.

Zeal & Ardor, as a full band rather than just Gagneux, will play their first ever UK show at Camden Underworld on 20th April 2017 and then will return for The Great Escape Festival in Brighton in May.

Zeal & Ardor - Devil Is Fine

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