Monday, March 25, 2019

Album Review: Zeal & Ardor - Live In London

Although the band was originally formed around an artificial if intriguing conceit (what would black metal and blues sound like? What music would the African slaves of America have been playing had they turned to the Devil instead of God?), Zeal and Ardor's music never sounds forced or patched together. Their blend is actually quite seamless, and it's due to the quality of the songs.

This record was recorded last December around the time we saw them in Paris (read our review HERE) and is a great document of the live experience they present: crushing riffs, kinetic drums and cult-ish incantations that toe the line between gospel psalms and gothic chants.

The dark, hypnotic grooves and savage blasts of ferocity are never too intrusive as to obscure the simple, effective songwriting. Tunes like We Never Fall or Blood In The River are literal hymns and a song like Built On Ashes wouldn't be out of place on today's rock radio. Of course, extreme metal purists will frown at such commercial potential. Their loss: songcraft and fusion of genres is what will keep the genre fresh and exciting.

Live In London serves as a great introduction to the band, but is probably even best enjoyed by those who already know the studio versions and have enjoyed the delightful heresy that is their live show.

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