A sold out Underworld is the scene for the debut ZEAL AND ARDOR show on our shores and since the incredible album Devil is Fine dropped, fans have been eagerly anticipating a performance to see exactly how Manuel Gagneux can deliver this masterpiece to a live crowd. The mixture of black metal and blues chanting isn’t one that anyone would expect to work, but haven’t we all been proved wrong.
Despite the language barrier, main support band PRIYAPISME managed to delight the already very full venue with what can only be described as the heaviest of thrash riffs entwined with Nintendo style, Japanese games soundtrack style keyboards. Although the boys are far from their home over in France, the broken English stage patter is hilarious and includes the band making reference to them not knowing the full names for some of their songs as they’re so ridiculous. It’s clear to see just how much fun they are having up on stage in what is also their first ever UK show. PRIYAPISME have been together, despite numerous member changes, since 2000, however 2017’s version of the band is definitely one to keep an eye on.
The anticipation in this packed out venue for tonight’s headline act is sky high and boy, ZEAL AND ARDOR didn’t disappoint. Flanked by a backing band wearing matching black hoods, Manuel Gagneux’s figure is incredibly imposing stood stage front with a menacing look on his face and opening with In Ashes gave everyone the opportunity to really hear Manuel’s incredibly unique vision in full effect. Despite the crowd being a mixture of metal heads and people that look as though they’ve come straight from a Jazz bar, everyone in the Underworld was chanting each chorus back at the band.
This is only ZEAL AND ARDOR‘s third ever show and as tight as the band sound, there is definitely still room to improve, but this is expected from a project that is less than a year old. As heavy as the riffing is, it is the blues chanting that really stands out. The demonic words echoing around the venue are almost haunting and it feels like a cult gathering when everyone has their hands raised, chanting the lyrics of Come On Down back at the band. Devil Is Fine clocks in at just under half an hour, so this hour long set is filled with plenty of unheard songs which sound brilliant and although the band’s debut is definitely an album of the year contender, the new tracks are some of the evening’s highlights. Closing with the obvious fan favourite and the album’s title track Devil Is Fine is the perfect way to end a set that has been a full on and completely new experience, not just any old show. It’ll be interesting to see how the band improve and the direction that they take with the already intriguing unreleased tracks however after this show, we know two things for sure. Firstly, when ZEAL AND ARDOR return having a whole summer of touring behind them, their live show will be untouchable and secondly and most importantly, Manuel Gagneux is a genius.