Zeal and Ardor / Pryapisme / Combineharvester – London, Camden Underworld - 20 April 2017 Print
Written by Matt Bunting   
Saturday, 29 April 2017 05:00

‘Devil is Fine’, Zeal and Ardor’s debut album caused quite a stir last year. Its unique blend of gospel, atmospherics and black metal earnt glowing reviews all the way from Metal Hammer to The Guardian. The mastermind behind it, Manuel Gagneaux, probably never thought too much would come of it when he initially uploaded it to Bandcamp, but a year later it’s been released on umpteen different vinyl editions and he’s about to play a debut full band UK show to a sold out Camden’s Underworld. And this is ahead of playing Roadburn, Reading Festival and supporting Prophets of Rage: so it’s been quite a year - but it’s only just beginning!


But first - the supports. We enter as Combineharvester are playing. They peddle a strange indie tinged doom rock, which doesn’t do anything for me. Their early start time hasn’t helped either, as only a few early adopters are in attendance.


Pryapisme - Camden


Things get a whole lot more interesting for the next support though - French five piece Pryapisme. This was probably the craziest show I’ve ever seen, but luckily it was full on amazing. It’s hard to describe what they do: it’s a glorious mash up of bad trip circus music, broken 8-bit computer game tunes and furious heavy metal riffing. You’re probably thinking that sounds absolutely horrible, and to be honest it probably would be if it wasn’t for the fact that they bring it together with an off the page level of talent.


The standard of skill, ability and overall tightness from these guys was just mind boggling, the songs changed time signature and even genre every ten seconds. Each one was a mini epic, taking in broken squelchy bit crusher guitar sounds as well melodic keys and driving heavy rhythm guitar. I’m still a little unsure what it was I saw here but I know I loved it to bits. Not sure if I would buy their CD’s but if I ever get the chance to see (sorry, experience) this total explosion of bonkersness again I wouldn’t miss it for anything. If you like the quirky side of music you must check these guys out (live).




Read Rich Hobson’s review of Pryapisme’s current album, ‘Diabolicus Felinae Pandemonium, HERE.


Zeal and Ardor - Camden 1


The Underworld is uncomfortably full now as Zeal and Ardor prepare to take the stage. The first thing to note here is that the album was a one man studio job, so Gagneux has had to gather a band pretty quickly and get out there. This is actually only their third ever show, but knowing this could genuinely explode massively he had to pick the right live ensemble. He gets this very right, all elements of this live band combined brilliantly to excellent effect. The addition of two cloaked backing singers to help him out with the chanting parts was an inspired idea as this gives Manuel the room to focus on his show stopping vocals.


At a mere 25 minutes, ‘Devil is Fine’ was as brilliant as it was short, so there was a bit of a concern how he was going to flesh out this short canon of material out into a one hour rock show. One of my favourite aspects of the record was its flow, it went from gloomy atmospherics to full on black metal riffery really quickly and was genuinely a ground breaking sound. Unfortunately the majority of the experimental side of the record was left out tonight and replaced with brand new songs. I’d say over three quarters of this set was brand new material - a brave but also inspired move as it proved as a showcase of things to come as well as a statement of intent. I think it’s fair to say the follow up to ‘Devil is Fine’ is the best part of ready to go, but also it’s going to be quite a departure from the sound of the first record. New tunes like ‘Don’t You Dare’ very much follow the vibe of the heavy cuts on the debut and are all bob on.


Zeal and Ardor - Camden 2


The band convey the power and subtleties of all these unusual songs expertly throughout this set all the way through to the last song and signature tune ‘Devil is Fine’. This is belted out by all in attendance it becomes quite clear that tonight has been an immense achievement for such a new band to be so accomplished and accepted. At the end the band thank the crowd for a fair time, almost with some disbelief that they are in this position. This was the third show? Madness. Someone’s either lying or we witnessed the start of something very special tonight.


This band is so brilliantly straddled on the line of avant-garde and full on metal they could quite reasonably be absolutely enormous by this time next year. Whatever happens to this project, their next UK headline slots will not be in venues the size of the Camden Underworld, that’s for sure.




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