Zeal and Ardor

Stranger Fruit

BY Max MorinPublished Jun 6, 2018

Have you ever wondered what it would sound like if Deafheaven's cutting-edge black metal sound was mixed with 19th century African-American chants? If you have, you're probably mad, but not as mad as Manuel Gagneux. The Zeal and Ardor mastermind and former chamber pop musician from Switzerland has set out to carve a new niche for himself in metal history. Whatever else Stranger Fruit is, it's unlike anything else you've ever heard.
"Gravedigger's Chant" and "Servants" kick things off nicely, utilizing the same barebones rhythms and tremolo guitar that was found on Zeal and Ardor's debut, Devil Is Fine. There's more metal then Afro music this time around, but Gagneux's full-throated hum makes the spirituals sound much more compelling then any of the screaming. "Row Row" and "Ship On Fire" tell the story of a satanic slave ship, and "The Fool" channels Mogwai, showing that Zeal and Ardor might have even more influences they want to cram in.
Stranger Fruit doesn't skimp on length, clocking in at 16 full-length tracks. The mix is so unique that it, plus the running time, might drive casual listeners away. But if you're that sort of person who likes Mayhem and Mavis Staples, this is for you.

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