Review ZEAL & ARDOR ‘Zeal & Ardor’

Zeal & Ardor is the brainchild of American-Swiss musician Manuel Gagneux. He started Zeal & Ardor in 2013 in Basel, Switzerland and it is the combination of two totally different genres that made the project to an exciting newcomer in 2016, the year, when Zeal &Ardor unleashed the debut album ‘Devil is Fine’.

Gagneux blends black metal and gospel. Hereby he achieves a sound and creates songs that are different from everything fans of metal heard so far. There can’t be a much better combination of ‘good’ and ‘evil’ than what comes out of a merge of these two styles.

I guess it was this unimaginable combination that brought some first attention for what Zeal & Ardor delivered musically. ‘Stranger Fruit’ picked it up where the project left off with their debut and these days it is album number three that is on its way to the record stores.

Simply entitled ‘Zeal & Ardor’ the project recorded fourteen new songs, a kaleidoscope of sounds. The title track kicks things off and acts more as a sinister intro to the album that goes right through you. ‘Run’ takes things further and the blackened aspect of Zeal & Ardor gain momentum. With siren-like sounds and partly hoarse vocals the song stands for a great beginning of the album.

A song that manifests the unusual combination of genres in a great fashion is ‘Feed the Machine’. The calmer and very rhythmic gospel-laden parts interact with extreme metal outbursts. Although the sound of the album follows a certain pattern the record is also filled with twists and surprises. In contrary to the massive ‘Feed the Machine’, tunes like the calm ‘Golden Liar’ are a manifest for the gospel- side of things. ‘Erase’ is next and starts slow and easy before the atmosphere of the tune leads to a feeling of comfortable discomfort. Also to mention is the hypnotic ‘Church Burn’, followed by ‘Götterdämmerung’, a song with a hellish grin.

‘Zeal & Ardor’ is a musical surprise bag with many twists and turns. The album doesn’t unleash all the details while spinning it for the first time. It might be even the case that it is a pleasant distraction and with every time listening to it a new detailed unfolds its blackened charm. This album is far away from mainstream and hereby an attraction the many should check out.

Rating: 9 out of 10.


  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-M-B
  14. A-H-I-L

Label: MKVA

Genre: Avant-Garde Metal

Release Date EU: February 11th, 2022



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