Black metal + black music: an evening with Zeal & Ardor

ZEAL & ARDOR + Nyos (12/11/2018 @ Orto Bar, Ljubljana)

Event:Zeal & Ardor + Nyos
Location:Orto Bar, Lubiana (SLO)

  • Nyos
  • Zeal & Ardor

Unless you dig through the underground, with bands that won’t probably ever see the spotlight, it’s hard to find something that’s properly original today. In the case of Zeal & Ardor, a big role was played by 4chan, that place that gathers some of the worst that netizens are capable of, and also something good: Manuel Gagneux was able to take advantage of the platform, asking for suggestions to make music starting from different genres. Black was the final choice, something that black metal and black music, the one sung by slaves in Confederate States, have in common. A healthy dose of experimentation was the final ingredient for the mix, an explosive one also in the context of a live show.


Opening the event are two guys from Jyväskylä, Finland: judging from their looks, they seem just like two nerds belonging to a university IT class and, seeing them among the audience, I wouldn’t even have placed a small bet on them going on stage. Tom Brooke (guitar) and Tuomas Kainulainen’s (drums) music is an instrumental post/math rock, where Kainulainen’s fast and precise parts are the foundation for an infinite series of guitar loops and stratifications, thanks to a huge selection of pedals. The duo is visibly entertained, one in front of the other, and the audience is pretty captivated — not to be taken for granted, considering the genre — although my attention is divided between the drum rolls and Brooke’s opinable, python leather loafers. Just thirty minutes of performance, also due to a slight delay at the beginning, and the guys leave the stage which, after a few minutes, will not so comfortably host six people.

Zeal & Ardor

Among the most interesting newcomers in the extreme area, Manuel Gagneux’s creature shook the experimental scene a couple times already, with Devil Is Fine (2017) and Stranger Fruit a year later, two albums that maintain the same soul but with two different approaches – the former with madness condensed in less than half an hour, and the latter, more mature, where everything is more refined and calculated. So, it’s been a while since the last time expectations for a live gig were this high, for Yours Truly.

We immediately realized how small the stage was when Gagneux and the two choir guys come on stage, leaving the other three musicians in the back. After having attended two or three gigs at Orto Bar, it’s no surprise that this isnt’ the best venue in terms of lighting, unfortunately for photographers, but also in terms of sound, but that’s maybe masochism for those who want to stay in the front rows. Luckily, the small space enhanced the intensity of the performance, helped by better sounds after a couple songs: Zeal & Ardor chose from their repertoire with an almost seamless, long set of songs, during with Gagneux was visibly entertained by the audience’s reaction, enjoying both the extreme and the traditional sides of the compositions.

The electronics on “Sacrilegium I” fit perfectly with the rest of the songs, flowing one into the other, proving the natural evolution between the two records: from “Servants” to “Gravedigger’s Chant”, through schizofrenia in “Children’s Summon” all the way to the final triptych composed of “Don’t You Dare”, “Devil Is Fine” and “Baphomet”. The six-piece performance didn’t show any weaknesses, with perfectly harmonized vocals erupting, from time to time, into desperate shrieks by Gagneux, Marco Von Allmen’s surgical drum beats and the precious work, far from the spotlight, of bassist Mia Rafaela Dieu and guitarist Tiziano Volante. This is a band that has already proven something but on which we need to keep an eye, in the next future: not bad for something started as a joke on the Internet.

Facebook Comments