Released on the 23rd of October, Zeal and Ardor once again show themselves to be one of the most unique and important bands in modern metal with Wake of a Nation.
Zeal and Ardor have blown me away all the way back from their debut release, Devil is Fine, to Stranger Fruit to live performances and now Wake of a Nation. They are an insanely talented band that started as a one man project by the exceptionally gifted Manuel Gagneuz who is lead vocalist, guitarist, song writer and also looks after synth and programming. In 2017, he filled the band out with even more gifted musicians and singers. On backing vocals, we have Denis Wagner and Marc Obrist. On guitar it’s Tiziano Volante, on bass we have Mia Rafaela Dieu and on drums it’s Marco Von Allmen.
Wake of a Nation sees Zeal and Ardor continue detailing the darker, shameful side of human nature and mankind’s oppressive tendencies. The only difference this time round is we aren’t heading back in time a bit to the days of slavery. Instead we are firmly rooted in today where recent times have shown what we probably all secretly knew. Racism is just as prevalent in today’s society as it has ever been. Police brutality, murder, rioting, looting – the world appears to be at war against itself. Conservative or Labour, Democrat or Republican, fuelled by social media antagonists on both sides, the system’s greatest weapon is division and segregation and people on all sides fall for it every time. Modern times have shown again and again the real life consequences of this division.
People are dying – the boot of oppression stamps down – we can’t breath.
In Wake of a Nation, Zeal and Ardor look at the horrors of modern society and deliver a powerful and emotional statement. Vigil’s morose melody worms it’s way through your soul as Manual Gagneux’s soulful tones cry “ I can’t breath, it’s a cell phone, please don’t shoot”. The drums follow immediately imitating a gun going off on repeat. It’s restrained, dark and very, very real. Tuskegee sees the band lean angrily on their black metal foundation in an absolute beast of a song. Nearly right from the off we get into the heavy with enraged screams, blasting drums and a crunchy riff. It’s a powerful and heavy look at the story behind the Tuskegee Airmen.
At the Seams treads that beautiful balance Zeal and Ardor find so often with soulful and sorrowful verses giving way to outbursts of extreme frustration. The melodic sections bring in the superb backing vocals and a restrained repeated piano note before a destructive explosion of riffing, blasting drums and roared vocals ram the message home with aplomb. Trust No One takes the heavier side of Zeal and Ardor and turns it up a few more notches. A chant starts us off before we get shook to the core with a deep, booming explosion of fury. The track switches back and forth between the little chant and the heavy section utilising a wicked guitar melody throughout both to tie them together.
The ending of this song is easily the heaviest music released by Zeal and Ardor to date. Wake of a Nation ends with the title track which sees the band pull in their multitude of influences to create a sonic force. Heavily distorted tones, a quick drum beat, harmonised vocals going off in every direction, chants, there is a lot going on and it works.
It closes down a quite brilliant EP from one of the most unique bands that exists today. Zeal and Ardor have a remarkable story telling ability and coupled with the very real topics covered, it creates something that is more than just music. It’s a powerful and considered statement backed by emotionally charged music that flits between extreme anger in their black metal parts and extreme sorrow in their brooding, morose parts. Manuel is a phenomenal singer and has amassed some insane talent around him making Zeal and Ardor one of the most exciting bands of our time. Wake of a Nation confirms that statement undeniably.
Grab a copy of this important release from the band on Bandcamp, here or an your usual streaming service.
Zeal and Ardor Links
Wake of a Nation by Zeal and Ardor (Self Released)
The Final Score - 10/10