Utterly, sincerely, and artistically forward-thinking

Since he first appeared with the debut Zeal & Ardor album in 2017, Manuel Gagneux has stayed at the forefront of music’s avant garde.

His band’s music is the very definition of eclectic, not simply blending elements of closely-related genres but combining utterly disparate ones with an alchemical fluidity that defies any kind of convention. The latest self-titled showcase for Zeal & Ardor takes Gagneux’ experimental flair into more electronic directions than previously as he takes on almost all of the instrumentation himself, adding symphonics and harsh industrial elements to an already vast sonic palette. 

Long harsh droning sounds introduce the album like a death march into the frenetic industrial metal of Run. Death to the Holy and Golden Liar represent the soul side of Zeal & Ardor, the first combining the strident electronics of the first two tracks, the second a mellower, pop-oriented track with subtle guitars. It is on Erase where the more extreme aspects of Zeal & Ardor explode from lilting guitars like a cacophony of rage, the industrial nightmare of Feed the Machine rips a hole through the middle of the album like a chainsaw. The wildly different shifts in tone and style are jarring, but the best art should challenge as much as it entertains, and Zeal & Ardor is wild abandon – soulful blues, Gospel, country, shrieking black metal and screaming, crushing industrial dissonance. 

It’s difficult to state how game-changing and utterly, sincerely, artistically forward-thinking this is both as an album, as a piece of art and as a new work in a deepening catalogue that will become part of the future of metal music.

  1. Zeal & Ardor
  2. Run
  3. Death to the Holy
  4. Emersion
  5. Golden Liar
  6. Erase
  7. Bow
  8. Feed the Machine
  9. I Caught You
  10. Church Burns
  11. Götterdämmerung
  12. Hold Your Head Low
  13. J-B-M
  14. A-H-I-L