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ZEAL AND ARDOR ‘Stranger Fruit’

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Out of the blue, (or is that black?) came forth Zeal And Ardor a couple of short years ago, an act that is sure to leave one scratching their head in wonderment.

Created by Manuel Gagneux when taunted by 4chan website posters who suggested to him that he combine Black Metal and ‘nigger’ (sic) music. Unbeknownst to the usual trolls that populate the 4chan network, Gagneux took on the challenge head on!

African American spiritual and gospel chants mixed with harsh cacophony inspired Black Metal? Surely you jest!

On paper, the influences and samples sound like this is an artist that cannot possibly exist or function as a musical entity. But it does exist. Scarily and brilliantly so.

The debut album Devil Is Fine was my album of the year for 2017. I played it over and over and over. And still, do. So it was with great excitement and anticipation when I first heard of this year’s new album Stranger Fruit.

Would Zeal And Ardor continue with the tremendous momentum their new sound had garnered on a global scale, or would it all come crashing down as a one-off diabolical gimmick?

Safe to say, the band have pretty much continued where they left off. My only gripe with 2017’s Devil Is Fine opus was that it was all a little too shallow and brief. Just as one was getting into it all, the album comes to an abrupt close. Albeit leaving the listener to just clamour for more.

Not so on Stranger Fruit. Spawning 16 tracks it is sure to whet the appetite of all existing fans and the discerning new listener as it perfectly picks up where Devil Is Fine left off and expands on it further. Trust me, that’s a good thing!

I was delighted to see that the track “Don’t You Dare” made it onto the album. It was a YouTube fave of mine via a live clip that was doing the rounds. Featuring all the traits that make Zeal And Ardor so damn special, it also includes a sinister and menacing Anton LaVey sample that to this particular Church Of Satan fanboy just made the track that much more exciting!

Each track on Stranger Fruit takes you on a dark and often sombre journey. The plight of the oppressed Black American slave is relived through the chain-gang gospel and only see an explosive release when the track will suddenly burst into frantic-speed-treble-littered-distorted-guitar-strumming.

There are so many great moments on this album. From the aforementioned “Don’t You Dare” through to the pure Black Metal burst of “Waste” and Blues inspired “We Can’t Be Found” which mixes and melds so many genres into one blistering, balls to the wall pure Heavy Crunching Metal!

Sorry, this is just fucking superb!

Produced by Zebo Adam and mixed by Converge guitarist Kurt Ballou, Stranger Fruits sounds fuller and oh so much bigger than the debut release.

Stranger Fruit will be released worldwide on June 8, 2018. Spiritual Black Metal Blues is something that should never, never work together. Ever. So many genres combine to create a sound like you have never heard before. Experience it for yourself!

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