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ZEAL & ARDOR Set For With New Album Greif

By Larry Petro, News Monkey
Wednesday, April 24, 2024 @ 10:31 AM


Out August 23rd; New Single "To My Ilk" Now Streaming

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Inventive and iconoclastic, ZEAL & ARDOR isn't just a band; it's a living and breathing entity.

Like any other sentient being, it consumes, evolves, and transforms from one season to the next. Its shape may change though its spirit remains the same. Founded and fronted by Manuel Gagneux, it has only sharpened its claws, lengthened its teeth, and steeled its nerves over the years, growing more undeniable and unpredictable in the process.

After gathering tens of millions of streams and earning widespread critical acclaim, this beast proves as dynamic and dangerous as ever on its fourth full-length, self-produced album, GREIF, set for release on August 23.

The title, GREIF, is inspired by an annual tradition in Gagneux's hometown of Basel, Switzerland. A mythical hybrid creature parades through the streets for the children in symbolism of Basel's working people balking at the oppressive elite on its other side. Given the animal's amalgam of energies and physicality, the name proved apropos.

"The GREIF is a lion, a snake, and a bird," he notes. "During the parade, he turns his backside to the aristocrats and sticks it to the man. It reflects where we are."

At the beginning of this next chapter, the evocative group have chosen to first showcase the album's conclusion, sharing its plaintive and poetic final track, "to my ilk". Loose blues guitar snakes around strong claps as Manuel's voice echoes through a choir. "It has another level of emotion, and it came out just the way I imagined," he remarks.

Watch a visualiser for the track BELOW.

Gagneux had the option to rest on his laurels, basking in the global acclaim garnered from three previous albums: Devil Is Fine [2017], Stranger Fruit [2018], and Zeal & Ardor [2022] - praised by NPR, Stereogum, Revolver, AV Club, Paste, Brooklyn Vegan, Alternative Press, Kerrang!, Metal Hammer, Metro, The Guardian, and many others. But rather than stagnating, Manuel opted to shake things up for GREIF. Instead of creatively flying solo again, this time he welcomed his bandmates into the studio. As such, the musicians - Tiziano Volante [guitar], Marc Obrist [vocals], Denis Wagner [vocals], Lukas Kurmann [bass], and Marco Von Allmen [drums] - spread their wings alongside him.

"We've really evolved into a tight-knit unit," adds Marc. "Before ZEAL & ARDOR, we were basically strangers, but we're like a little family now. Each member brings his own unique flavor to the mix, and we all try to make Manuel's songs better in our own way. The most interesting part for me was the new approach of how we work together in the studio."

Decamping to Marc's studio Hutch Sounds in Switzerland, the record came to life in just five months. The frontman excitedly leveraged the talents of his cohorts, featuring three voices for the first time and emboldening the sound from every angle.

"I wanted to expand upon what we had and introduce new colors," Manuel goes on. "There are angry and accusatory moments, but there's also some solace and happiness. I'm widening the palette of colors we have to paint with. These are avenues we haven't tried."

GREIF will be available on CD, transparent vinyl, and digitally. Pre-orders begin on Friday, April 26.

GREIF TRACK LISTING:

  • "the Bird, the Lion, and the Wildkin"
  • "Fend You Off"
  • "Kilonova"
  • "are you the only one now?"
  • "Go home my friend"
  • "Clawing out"
  • "Disease"
  • "369"
  • "Thrill"
  • "une ville vide"
  • "Sugarcoat"
  • "Solace"
  • "Hide in Shade"
  • "to my ilk"
"We invite listeners to hear the full spectrum of the different sides and sounds that make ZEAL & ARDOR," Tiziano leaves off. "There are some gorgeous moments, but it packs in a lot of intensity and charm. In Manuel's songwriting and the process with every member, there's a certain intentionality as well as an element of randomness and accident. I can't wait to see people's reactions."

In January 2024, ZEAL & ARDOR released Play With The Devil, a documentary film by Olivier Joliat and Matthias Willi. The documentary intimately chronicles Manuel Gagneux's journey from the inception of ZEAL & ARDOR through initial tours and a soul-searching period of crisis. The bold mix of Black Metal with old work songs and field hollers by the enslaved - his answer to a racist provocation on the internet - is politically explosive. As a person of color in metal, Gagneux and his music have shone a light on religion, racism, segregation, and cultural appropriation. However, the sudden surge in acclaim and the weight of being hailed a visionary leader by fans threatened to overwhelm the softly-spoken, introverted artist. Play With The Devil is available now for streaming on major platforms.


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