The desire for one to embark on journey of discovery into the world of Swiss avant-garde metal isn’t one that occurs often. As a matter of fact, I’m not aware of a single situation where this has been the case. Should it be desired, but unspoken, you’ve come to the right place.
Basel, Switzerland by way of New York City, vision of Manuel Gagneux, that is the moniker Zeal & Ardor, said Swiss avant-garde metal, is not a training wheels for the weary, but a damn fine example of how to do it right. The latest, self-titled record, is a fantastic balance of avant-garde and metal, with some extra flair thrown in for good measure and to avoid becoming stale.
The connotations typically associated with metal are lost within the confines of Zeal & Ardor. The balance achieved within these tracks is spectacularly precise and equally captivating. Masterful transitions between sounds, primarily metal and rock, exists throughout and keep what is superficially metal anything but predictable and repetitive. Plainly put, Zeal & Ardor is an example of just how right things can go.
It should be noted Zeal & Ardor don’t just package a grinding, overwhelming assault on the senses over their 14-track third full-length that is the self-titled release. The balance achieved cerebrally electrifies as bold risks pay off in dividends and there is diversity enough to keep you hooked on each track. “Emersion” steps heavily into the world of Washed Out before eviscerating it and making it their own, the harmony backed “Bow” echoes with a dark marching presence calling attention to “bow down to the American Way,” which will surely mislead many who wish to use it to their misguided intentions, and “Church Burns” bites like the early days of Kongos. Rather than a knock-down-drag-out, it is an audio sparring match, allowing for you to catch your breath at precisely the right moments.
I’ll be honest, I came for “Church Burns” and I stayed for the daring rollercoaster that is this record. I keep coming back because after one listen, I feel like Chev Chelios and I need the adrenaline boost to keep me moving. If you are a fan of the genre, add this to your list immediately. If you’re venturing into the unknown, I’ll confidently propose exploring Zeal & Ardor upon release February 11, 2022.