Black Metal, Metal, Post-Black Metal

Zeal & Ardor – Wake of a Nation EP (Recommendation)

Band: Zeal & Ardor
Album: Wake of a Nation
Genre: Post-Black Metal, Avantgarde Metal
Country: USA / Switzerland
Release Date: 23rd of October, 2020
Cover Artwork: © Zeal & Ardor, 2020

I’m usually not big on EPs – sure, there’s always some fun songs to discover, but I simply prefer putting on a full-length album and kind of dislike the fact that most EPs have an aftertaste of “leftover material”. However, the tracks leading up to Zeal & Ardor‘s new EP Wake of a Nation definitely sparked my interest given their political nature. Bandleader Manuel Gagneux stated that even though he usually plays with ambiguity, “these 6 songs are a knee jerk reaction to what has happened to my fellow people in the last months. This record is for Michael Brown, Eric Garner, George Floyd and the countless untold and nameless killed.” (via Facebook)

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, this statement should give you a pretty good idea of the lyrical concept of this EP. There is certainly no mistaking the message here – lyrics are plain as day, with lines such as “I can’t breathe, it’s a cell phone, please don’t shoot” (“Vigil”) or even snippets from news reports in “I Can’t Breathe”. But it’s the mix of message and music that really got to me here. Zeal & Ardor expand upon their “Black Metal meets Gospel”-style, going full-on Metal on tracks such as “Tuskegee” and “Trust No One”, while focusing more on electronics and soul in “Vigil” and “Wake of a Nation”.

This EP proves that Zeal & Ardor is simply one of the most interesting bands in Metal right now. Is it still “Metal”? This might not be the case in a strict sense, but the way they play with musical boundaries of genres, delivering 6 songs that couldn’t be more different yet still work so well together – that’s more Metal than a lot of “trve” stuff I’ve heard lately. This EP is quite the opposite of “leftover material” – it’s a standalone work which has a concept to it and knows that this concept might not have worked for longer than 6 tracks. It’s truly what an EP should be like: it perfectly shows what the band is capable of and shows a new side of theirs (both lyrically and musically), while also making me look forward to a new full-length and having a ton of replay value.

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