zeal and ardor hysteria

Zeal & ArdorZeal & Ardor

11th February, 2022
zeal and ardor hysteria
Certified Bangers!

Casting forward to predict the future of ‘metal’ (i.e. heavy music emerging from the underground of seemingly any sub-genre currently) is as pointless as trying to pick out trends in abstract fashion.

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On one hand there’s the nu revival, held firmly in place by the likes of Tallah, Ocean Grove and Tetrarch. Death metal has met hardcore in an unlikely shipping of scene purists and moshlords via Knocked Loose, Justice For The Damned, Frozen Soul and all manner off other Hate5six sets on YouTube. And let’s not forget the pagan cinematic revival, headed up by Wardruna, Heilung and Myrkur.

The point is this—the future of metal is a wonderful clusterfuck owned by post-Y2K individuals who see Linkin Park as integral to the fabric of heavy music as Judas Priest, and aren’t afraid to experiment with all manner of external musical and cultural influences to create something unique and artistically sincere. Zeal & Ardor, that’s your cue. Come on down! The avant-garde one-man project of Swiss mastermind Manuel Gangneux is a product of everything that makes modern heavy music exciting, and he’s lived up to the hype by fusing elements of soul, pop, alternative rock, black metal and crushing post-metal with elements of mathcore sprinkle for good measure on his latest LP, a self-titled chapter.

Iron Maiden and Metallica are cool and all, but when the future sounds like this, it’s hard to look back. 

A smorgasbord of sonic adventures keeps the listener guessing for all 14 tracks here, but at no point do things feel out of control or haphazard—rather, Gangneux’s razor sharp song writing holds these contorting cuts together, resulting in each number being brilliantly accessible. Despite the mix of styles, this record doesn’t play like a genre buffet either, with the call-and-response gospel lines of tracks like Church Burns and Feed The Machine slotting alongside the blackened shrieks of Immersion and Gotterdammerung with ease. Zeal & Ardor has always been a project to keep listeners guessing, but on this definitive statement Gangneux has sharpened the edges, leaned more into his dynamic range of influences and in doing so has produced what will surely be one of the most forward thinking heavy records of the year. Iron Maiden and Metallica are cool and all, but when the future sounds like this, it’s hard to look back. 

STANDOUT TRACKS: Death To The Holy, Erase, J-M-B
STICK THIS NEXT TO: Devin Townsend, Enslaved, Backxwash

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