Zeal & Ardor - Stranger Fruit (MKVA) 2018
There is no doubt that Zeal & Ardor, the unorthodox project led by Swiss-American musician Manuel Gagneux, is one of the most original and refreshing musical creations of the current decade. Challenged by 4chan users to mix black metal with “black music”, he took what could very well have been just a funny gimmick and turned it into something serious, fearlessly pushing the boundaries of heavy music and becoming a game changer in the process.
Two years after making waves with the debut Devil Is Fine, Zeal & Ardor return with Stranger Fruit. While musically similar to its predecessor, the new album displays a clear and impressive artistic maturity: whereas before the marriage between these disconnected genres seemed at times somewhat forced, now Manuel is fully in control of his own weird but ambitious formula where spirituals, blues and sonic brutality peacefully coexist. It is also socially relevant, with its lyrics often drawing parallels between America’s past history of racism and current events.
Stranger Fruit will certainly go down as one of the most creative and important records of our time. A true gem.