Zeal & Ardor releases a potent third album
Zeal & Ardor has returned after a four-year hiatus by releasing their self-titled third album: Zeal & Ardor. This appropriately titled album, released in February of 2022, is the group’s first album since Stranger Fruit was released in 2018.
Zeal & Ardor was formed in 2013 by biracial Swiss-American artist Manuel Gagneux. Gagneux grew up listening to death metal and technical artists and would later use these genres to inspire the music created by Zeal & Ardor. Born in Switzerland, Gagneux immigrated to New York City in 2012 where he started posting his early music to 4Chan, one of the largest and most notorious fringe imageboard websites.
After receiving inspiration from 4Chan message boards, Gagneux began experimenting with fusing different genres into his music. His mixture of black metal and elements from African slave chants and gospel create Zeal & Ardor’s unprecedented sound. After recruiting more members to his band, Zeal & Ardor released their first LP, Devil Is Fine in 2016. The band gained immediate positive recognition, as Devil Is Fine was named one of the best metal records of 2016 by Rolling Stone.
Flash forward to 2022, and Zeal & Ardor is still going strong. The band currently consists of Manuel Gagneux at lead vocals, lead and rhythm guitars, Dennis Wagner and Marc Obrist as backing vocals, Tiziano Volante on rhythm guitar, Lukas Kurmann on bass and Marco Von Allmen on drums. Together since 2017, Zeal & Ardor’s pre-established chemistry has made their self-titled release their best one yet.
The music on this album is well crafted and diverse. Zeal & Ardor presents pure and fast electric metal in songs like “Emersion” but also slows it down utilizing a careful balance of drums and guitars in the song “J-M-B.” Gagneux’s vocals perfectly compliment the music with intense edge and intensity.
What makes Zeal & Ardor so special is its ability to maintain a sense of newness and freshness on every track. For example, “Death to the Holy” takes an anti-religious stance and expresses it through a mixture of electric fast metal and slower-paced rock. The album then moves to the slower-paced “Golden Liar,” where Gagneux describes himself as a cowardly liar that feels a lack of purpose.
The message and feelings of rebellion also add greatly to the ferocity of Zeal & Ardor. Even the negative tones of death and anti-religious sentiments are somehow motivating as it is supported by an intense sound structure that drifts listeners away from traditional feelings of security.
Fans of any genre will love Zeal & Ardor’s ability to engage the listener throughout every song. The instrumentals are perfectly complemented with captivating vocals and provide an excellent listening experience. Older metal fans will especially appreciate the youthful and nostalgic feelings of rebellion presented throughout Zeal & Ardor.