Review: Zeal & Ardor – Zeal & Ardor

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Zeal & Ardor likely needs no introduction around here, as frontman Manuel Gagneux long ago garnered heavy attention and critical acclaim with his eclectic mix of black metal, Black spiritual music, and various other genre influences. I had the chance to sit down and chat with Manuel a while back, which will be posted for your hungry ears soon, but for now let’s get to the upcoming self-titled album.

Zeal & Ardor sees the band incorporate a little more nu metal influence here and there, while still keeping up an incredibly balanced mix of black metal fury and bluesy Black American folk sections. “Emersion” is a favorite of mine, along with “Gotterdammerung,” “Feed the Machine,” and “Hold Your Head Low,” though there wasn’t a single track that I ever felt the urge to skip.

“Emersion,” though I wouldn’t call it an earworm, especially has been sticking with me because I like the juxtaposition of soaring guitar lines, electronic pop synth lines sparkling through here and there, and wild shrieking over the top.

“I Caught You” gives the biggest smack of that nu metal influence for me on this album, in a pretty fun and nostalgic way. It’s got that repeating pattern kinda giving me Coal Chamber vibes except not…bad. It’s the kinda track that makes me think a nu metal revival could go over really well, cleaning up and polishing the tropes of the genre while improving the areas that were a little lacking.

“Gotterdammerung” is probably the biggest earworm for me on the album, with the driving beat and high energy helping things stick to my lizard brain, especially with the riff starting on an off beat, which helps keep things just interesting enough.

All of the tracks have good production and writing, and even three albums in now I’m still gobsmacked at how well Gagneux incorporates all these different styles, especially with this self-titled album feeling the most balanced out of all of Zeal & Ardor’s catalog. The only real possible weakness is the final two tracks, “J-M-B” and “A-H-I-L” feeling a little out of place compared to the rest of the album, but even then I feel that’s more of a track ordering issue.

Zeal & Ardor comes out on February 11 through MVKA. Be sure to pick it up, you won’t be disappointed.

4.5/5 Flaming Toilets Ov Hell

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