Black metal, avant-garde, experimental rockers, Zeal and Ardor have released the third single from their upcoming album. This track is called Built on Ashes and it will feature on the album Stranger Fruit due out on the 8th of June.
It is fair to say that expectations run high now whenever Zeal and Ardor drop a new song. Since the release of their debut, Devil is Fine they have been on an upward surge of popularity. With popularity and hype comes pressure and criticism too though. The debut wasn’t immune to criticism and had missteps on it, namely anything Sacrilegium based. Those terrible pieces of electronica can easily be overlooked due to the sheer quality of the other tracks like Come On Down. The announcement of a new album, Stranger Fruit, was met with excitement, intrigue and slight concern here at GBHBL.
What route would frontman and creator Manuel Gagneux take with the band? Would there be more black metal or more electronica? Well, based on the releases so far, any concerns have been well and truly put to bed. The first single, Gravedigger’s Chant is an excellent blend of bluesy, chain gang styled vocals with a heavily distorted backing of black metal. Waste takes a more aggressive turn being a vicious blast of black metal with little tints of the gospel esque vocals.
Built on Ashes is a little different again but is heavily rooted in black metal. The track is just over 4 and a half minutes long and starts off with drawn out, distorted guitar notes. Gagneux unmistakable clean vocals come in over the simple riff, singing soulfully. A gentle, melancholy piano note joins in and the rest of the band add some depth with harmonised backing vocals. The drums are faded buty play a solid rolling beat and the guitars stay distorted and atmospheric as the vocals raise in intensity.
They end up being trade offs between the backing, then Manuel then the backing and it sounds really good. The guitars drop away leaving just vocals and the piano line with the occasional screech of a guitar in the background. The softer sections starts building again and the instruments re-join playing a strong atmospheric metal line with the wonderfully impassioned vocals over the top. It is a powerful mix of musical styles and epitomises Zeal and Ardor.
Built on Ashes is another cracking song and from what has been heard so far, Stranger Fruit is going to completely eclipse Devil is Fine. Something I didn’t think they would be able to achieve. While the vocals remain in soulful, clean singing throughout the track, the metal edge comes from the wall of meticulously timed and placed instruments coming and going underneath the vocals. The guitars are viciously distorted, the drums are immaculately timed. The added piano melody adds a sombre edge. The most impressive thing about this track though is in how perfectly everything has been placed together. There are many, many layers to appreciate on a song that is quite brilliant.
Built in Ashes is available at all the usual streaming services now. Pick up a digital copy from Zeal and Ardor’s Bandcamp page too. You can preorder Stranger Fruit from here. You can also gran the singles, the album and more from the links below. Check out Zeal and Ardor at their website, on Facebook, Bandcamp, Twitter and Instagram for more information on them and their releases.
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Built on Ashes by Zeal and Ardor (Stranger Fruit)
The Final Score - 9/10