ALBUM REVIEW: Zeal & Ardor – Live in London

Zeal & Ardor brought their unique sound to London in December and the results are captured here in their entirety for us to experience. For those not in the know, Zeal & Ardor mix traditional American folk music and black metal with elements of electronic music thrown in for good measure. Frontman Manuel Gagneux approaches Zeal & Ardor’s sound “with two thoughts: Christianity was imposed upon American slaves, just as it was imposed in Norway, and black metal in the 90s grew as a rebellion to monotheism.”

Live in London features every track from studio albums, Devil is Fine and Stranger Fruit, as well as four unreleased tracks for what results in essentially a Satanic sermon. The themes found throughout each track are very on the nose and tend to miss the wrinkle of a joke found in the best black metal – “the riverbed will run red with the blood of the saints and the blood of the holy.” The sense of fun is missing from what could genuinely be a really interesting project.

At twenty two tracks and around an hour and twenty minutes long, Live in London can be a bit of a slog. Despite playing everything from the Zeal & Ardor back catalogue and the handful of new songs, those unfamiliar with the band will not get much out of this release. For those who love live records or were there for this tour this is a perfect memento.

The album itself is well produced and the sound quality is impeccable, but like all live albums, there’s just that something special missing.


Standout Tracks: Servants, Blood in the River, Gravedigger’s Chant

For Fans Of: Batushka, Sigh, Thou

Written by: Henry McCaughtrie