The Devil In The Underworld : Zeal & Ardor’s Victorious Performance
24th April 2017, 09:57
Posted by Tristan
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The Underworld. For the London Metalhead, there’s no doubt you’ll have frequented it’s halls. A beacon of opportunity to the young bands and a special treat for fans for some of the biggest artists in the game. Throughout its illustrious history the venue has seen all manner of music, though I doubt that it’s ever had African Slave Music meets Black Metal come through its halls. Intrigued? You should be.

Made up of one Manuel Gagneux, the project of Zeal & Ardor was drummed up in the man’s bedroom. Originally with a scope as large as simple experimentation with opposing genres, the man has seemingly been able to create something altogether entirely different. Gagneux must have struck gold with the oppressive combination of Black Metal and African Slave Music. Celebrating the record’s release Gagneux has put together a set for tonight’s Sold Out Underworld that will really turn some heads.

Quite the statement for even the most established of bands, selling out The Underworld is a feat in itself. As the differing demographic of fans are slowly hemmed in after the Mario Rock Metal from Pyrapisme wait patiently for Zeal & Ardor‘s arrival. Unveiling the new album, Devil Is Fine, as much the record as expansive its merely twenty five minutes long, hardly the length of any normal set list. As the lights suddenly go black and the electronic introduction of “Sacriligeum I” comes out of the PA it’s clear that this isn’t going to be a gig in the conventional sense.

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Cloaked in black the entire band are intimidating yet contain a sense of mystery about them. Slowly chipping away at the various armour presented from the band we begin to see what the Zeal & Ardor live show consists of. Complete with a drummer, two back up singers, a bassist and another guitarist the stage is full to say the least. Recalling the simplicity of the Blues the likes of Robert Johnson, “Come On Down” worms its way into the crowd. Suddenly exploding into the Black Metal element of the band as we hear frantic thrashing on the guitar.

With the entire crowd chanting the likes of “Blood In The River” despite its oppressive sound, the spirit of tonight is one of unity. Make no mistake, Zeal & Ardor isn’t for the close minded. Having said that, when the band do get their Metal on it’s unmistakable and owing to the distinct lack of distortion when they turn it on it really stands out. Yet just as soon as “Ship on Fire” has finished the keyboard tinkering frenecity of “Children’s Summon” comes out of nowhere making for yet another curveball. Able to appeal to all sorts of demographic there’s everything here from Mogwai to Darkthrone t shirts. Stumbling on what could well be a veritable fountain of creative ideas, Zeal & Ardor are like no other. Conjuring ethereal groans on “In Ashes” the possession inducing groaning is a particularly ghoulish spectacle. However it’s the highlight of “Devil Is Fine” where Gagneux might not even need a microphone at all. Reaching its peak, the Metallic gospel has been created and as you can see the boyish sheepish state of Gagneux it has been absolutely brilliant. If you might have heard their new record and it left you puzzled in all the right places then the band are doing their job absolutely fantastically. Landing a support slot with Prophets of Rage at the hallowed Brixton if there is any advice I can offer make a date in your diary and stick to it. You might just be part of something altogether entirely different yet absolutely huge.