Zeal and Ardor
Stranger Fruit


4.0
excellent

Review

by Chamberbelain CONTRIBUTOR (185 Reviews)
June 9th, 2018 | 92 replies


Release Date: 2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: If this album were to be a film, it would be directed by Tarantino- unpredictable and violent.

What constitutes a new sound within heavy music" Metal’s longevity is predominantly down to the limitless expanse in which bands can illustrate heaviness, yet, it occasionally feels like there’s nothing unheard of within the genre other than bands developing and perfecting an existing sound. While the spirit of the genre is undeniably alive and kicking, rarely does heavy metal birth something truly unique. However, every now and then, an artist appears seemingly out of nowhere and creates something truly unique, simultaneously relieving the scene of potential stagnancy and offering another completely new sound to toy with.

Manuel Gagneux, the brains and soul of Zeal & Ardor, introduced the world to a vision of a terrifyingly descriptive and emotive picture of slave-era America where the slaves would channel their hope and dreams of rebellion in a spiritual manner as opposed to physically. Consequently, “Devil is Fine”, exposed Zeal & Ardor as an anthemic and unifying proclamation to Satan imbued with a dark, passionate and violent mentality. “Devil is Fine” was a debut album that threw categorisation out the window complete with a crossover appeal that ascended Gagneux from obscurity to widespread awareness.

Aside from the binding of two genres that ordinarily should not be glued together “Stranger Fruit”, Zeal & Ardor’s latest album, follows unpredictable song structuring which to some will yield two reactions: confusing or intriguing. Straight from the intro track into “Gravedigger’s Chant”, the erratic manner is established where the chopping of wood develops into torrents of tremolo and free gospel singing twists into a morbid and imposing presence. “Don’t You Dare” also skips over genre boundaries with ease as western twanging advances into folky guitar riffs then to shredding shriek and finally back to Gaganeux’s isolated and threatening voice. On a larger scale, the album may focus on a few softer songs with a determined emphasis on the clean, gospel call-and-respond singing and gentle instrumentation before inexplicably exploding into a furious black metal track. The sheer amount of ideas that Gaganeux pours into this album explains why the album stands at a lengthy 16 songs long. Because of the diversity and unique signature each song displays, they couldn’t simply be cut together otherwise it would sound disorganised.

While disorganised and unpredictable may sound like the same thing, “Stranger Fruit” proves that there is a distinct difference between the two definitions, chiefly down to how clean the album sounds despite its erratic charisma as well as how catchy the songs actually are. When music is unpredictable, something- a theme or a mood- needs to tie everything together and on this album and a constant eerie vibe is what turns these unpredictable songs into one coherent record, assisted greatly by Kurt Ballou’s menacing production job. This eeriness manifests in the calmer, reflective moments where isolated, drawn-out sounds create a distinct feeling of unease. Additionally, eeriness develops within the icy screams during the fiery songs such as “Waste” and “Fire of Motion” and within the lyricism where Gagneux expresses dread, fury and threats when dealing with the suppression and abuse of black people in America.

With the amount of experimentation “Stranger Fruit” reveals, it was never designed to be an immediately accessible album. Moreover, it is such a unique and hugely daring record that it will take a long time to digest and accept. Refreshing, catchy and fascinating, Zeal & Ardor’s sheer intrigue and crossover appeal will surely cause ripples in the heavy metal scene in no time at all.



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user ratings (113)
Chart.
3.9
excellent
other reviews of this album
SomeGuyDude (5)
Unchained....



Comments:Add a Comment 
Muse1748
June 9th 2018


186 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I bought this album after listening to Gravediggers Chant and 1 minute of servants on Spotify. Easily one of the most uniquely captivating albums I’ve ever heard.



Stellar review as always

NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
June 9th 2018


8753 Comments


Gonna have to give this a go

mindleviticus
June 9th 2018


9361 Comments


nice write-up, i'll give a whirl at some point today

rafalafa
June 9th 2018


63 Comments


This is way more cohesive than their first album so far. Although, it's kinda...what if Imagine Dragons had black metal tendencies?

neekafat
June 9th 2018


10351 Comments


"soul" "experimental" "black metal"
wut

Underflow
June 9th 2018


4131 Comments


wut [2]

KevinKC
June 9th 2018


796 Comments


summary could be better worded
"This album is as unpredictable and violent as The Hateful Eight." Tarantino's best movie. I know, I know. Nobody thinks The Hateful Eight is Tarantino's best. But nobody realised Bill doesn't die at the end of kill bill either. And nobody realised that BB is not kiddo's daughter. And nobody realised that Gogo is Oren Ishii's daughter. And nobody realised that Oren's parents get killed because her mother cheated on her father and Oren is the daughter of the guy she kills while having sex with him. And nobody realised that Kiddo is the narrator and hence tells a lot of lies. Like for example, she's never buried alive... sorry, I need to take my pills.

nice enthusiastic review.

megadedhed
June 9th 2018


102 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

As someone who listened to Devil is Fine and thought "Man, I really wish there were more songs on here like 'Come On Down'", this is hitting the spot for me.

Xenophanes
Staff Reviewer
June 9th 2018


1191 Comments


Their ep was neat so I’ll have to jam this one

AsleepInTheBack
June 10th 2018


5704 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

weird record, fun tho



"every now and then, an artist appears seemingly out of nowhere and creates something truly unique, simultaneously relieving the scene of potential stagnancy and offering another completely new sound to toy with" [2] that's this through and through, well said

RustCohle
June 10th 2018


215 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Already loved their first effort, this is even better. highly unique stuff.

Essence
June 10th 2018


6169 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

by far the most interesting thing i've heard all year

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
June 10th 2018


21993 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

gonna jam this...

Digging: Melody's Echo Chamber - Bon Voyage

Muse1748
June 10th 2018


186 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Seriously, I’ve jammed this three or four times and it just keeps getting better. By all accounts this shouldn’t work, but damnit it does. Very well.

Storm In A Teacup
June 10th 2018


23086 Comments


Yes!!!!!!!#! So hyped to hear this

Cryptkeeper
June 10th 2018


1778 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This might just turn into a 5.0 for me

Comatorium.
June 10th 2018


4828 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Holy shit

mindleviticus
June 10th 2018


9361 Comments


almost too odd of a record

Storm In A Teacup
June 10th 2018


23086 Comments


Pfft

BlazinBlitzer
June 11th 2018


932 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

How in the world is this as good as it is?



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