The Fire of Motion: An interview with Zeal & Ardor
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It’s infuriatingly common to hear people state that the modern metal scene as it is today is stagnant: a nostalgia-driven movement that only lives to leech off of the success of names like Metallica and Iron Maiden, with nothing new or original to bring to the table.
(Photo credit: Matthias Willi)Those who make such inaccurate statements have clearly never listened to Zeal & Ardor, who stand as one of the most eclectic and continually astounding musical outfits of the 21st century. Ever since their unassuming origins as the brainchild of founder and frontman Manuel Gagneux, the group have made a name for themselves by fusing two of the most seemingly incompatible musical styles in history: dulcet, African-American spirituals and heavy, fucking metal. “I came to the realisation that people were fond of the uncompromising; of me not thinking about an audience,” Manuel explains. “And I think that’s also something that Death Grips do, or why I gravitate towards their music. They don’t give a shit about their audience and people feel that; they’re fascinated by that. So I tried to keep that with me as much as I could.” The unapologetic and experimental nature of Zeal & Ardor has brought the band monumental success in a shockingly miniscule amount of time. Their debut album, the lauded Devil Is Fine, first blessed ears en masse in February 2017 and, by the end of the year, they had become hailed as bona fide heavy metal heroes: trailblazers transporting the genre to new, uncharted and much-needed places. “I did this for myself and thought maybe some of my friends would get a chuckle out of it. I just had it as a pet project, until I had some songs and I uploaded it to Bandcamp. Then Rolling Stone followed suit and by then I was in too deep!” laughs Manuel. Never ones to rest on their laurels, Zeal & Ardor already have a follow-up to Devil Is Fine in the pipeline. Their eagerly anticipated sophomore disc – aptly entitled Stranger Fruit – arrives on shop shelves on 8th June. The record is a true successor in every sense of the term: not only is it almost twice as long as its predecessor, but it’s also a heavily fine-tuned masterwork, focused entirely on exploring every nook and cranny of Zeal & Ardor’s patented slave-music-meets-metal stylings.
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