In Zeal & Ardor, Manuel Gagneux mixes black metal with black music—specifically blues and gospel | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

In Zeal & Ardor, Manuel Gagneux mixes black metal with black music—specifically blues and gospel 

Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe

click to enlarge Zeal & Ardor

Zeal & Ardor

Matthias Willi

Swiss-born, New York-based multi-instrumentalist Manuel Gagneux found inspiration for Zeal & Ardor, his solo black-metal project, in the asshole of the Internet: 4chan. Gagneux had taken to asking the online message board’s anonymous users to suggest genres he could blend together, and Zeal & Ardor came about when somebody suggested mixing “black metal” with the music of . . . well, black people, except the commenter used America’s most loaded N-word instead. (Gagneux is biracial, with a black mother and a white father.) He wound up spinning that shit into gold, melding black metal’s lo-fi tremolo picking and rattling blastbeats with blues melodies and overdubbed, emotionally heavy vocal harmonies that recall the traditions of the Mississippi Delta. The vocals on Z&A’s 2016 debut, Devil Is Fine (Radicalis/MVKA), so successfully evoke the spirituals recorded by famous ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax that Gagneux faced accusations of unlawful sampling. In fact, the singing is all his own; in a 2016 interview with Texas music blog Toilet Ov Hell, Gagneux spoke of studying Lomax’s recordings with a clinical approach, though that detachment is thankfully missing from his recordings. Even when he strays from the realm of rock and remixes his parts into a techno assault, as on “Sacrileguim I,” his music hits hard enough to bruise.   v

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Give $35/month →  
  Give $10/month →  
  Give  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  → 

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories