Zeal and Ardor have released their first piece of new music since 2016’s Devil is Fine and then it’s rerelease by MKVA in 2017. That new music comes in the form of a single called Baphomet. Baphomet has been brought to us via Adult Swim Singles.
I don’t think I have seen many more meteoric rises in heavy metal then that of the brainchild of Manuel Gagneux. Feverish excitement infected large parts of the metal community upon the release of initial singles, Come On Down and title track, Devil is Fine. Rightly so too. Those songs are awesome. The album came out and the rise continued though, in truth, it didn’t hit the heights of the singles. The good songs on it are insanely good but the bad, well, here is looking at you Sacrilegium 1, 2 and 3. You can read our thoughts on it here.
Tours followed, including a headlining run where GBHBL caught them at a sold out Camden Underworld show. Read about that here. With a full band in tow now, it was a special, special show. Zeal and Ardor have since gone on to appear at countless festivals and even toured as support to Prophets of Rage.
Obviously with all that excitement, news of new music is met with a high level of anticipation. Also a little trepidation though. With Devil is Fine being a mix of brilliantly blended spirituals and black metal, but dappled with unimaginative synth and electro tracks, who knows what route the new music will take?
The title, Baphomet, adds a little promise being an occult figure connected to The Knights Templar and even the Freemasons. Not something that naturally lends itself to eclectic synth. That assumption turns out to be correct. In case you were worried about what we were going to get, we get metal, but in Zeal and Ardor’s fresh, avant-garde style.
Baphomet, like most of Devil is Fine, is vocally driven but the thing most people will come away remembering is the drumming. The song is just a beast of double bass. Manuel sings in his soulful, spiritual voice about Baphomet. “Right hand up, left hand down” (see the picture above). He sings well and his voice always sounds full of determination and sorrow. There is a load of backing vocals to give the impression of a choir, or chain gang, of singers. They sing over almost silence through the verses and then, as the chorus hits, a very simple riff is played, muffled in the back, while a strong bass line and pounding drums blaze out a rhythm that sounds likely to call Baphomet forward himself.
This soulful singing verses followed by a heavy and punishing chorus pattern repeats through to the end. There is just enough time for the vocals to be muted while a guitar comes in to play a short but sweet melody as it closes.
Baphomet is a really good song and slips right in alongside his best work on the previous album. This is a mix of soulful but devilish vocals with heavy drums and riffing. There is a real satanic/demonic edge to the track that pushes forward images of darkness and dread. It is really enjoyable to listen to.
The production does sound a little raw, perhaps purposely, which, whether intended or not, adds a bit more feeling to the song. I would have loved a bit more from the guitars though and also would have liked to hear Manual hit some of those black metal screams as in Come on Down, of course. Personal taste things though I guess, it is a really good song and once again shows the uniqueness of the Zeal and Ardor project and the creativity of it’s frontman, Manuel.
Check it out here –
You can pick up music from Zeal and Ardor on Bandcamp here. Find out more about Zeal and Ardor on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Be sure to give them a like and follow while you are there. You can also grab some of their music from the links below.
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Baphomet by Zeal and Ardor
The Final Score - 8/10