The 50 best albums of 2022
The Kerrang! verdict on the 50 albums that shaped 2022.
For a band whose initial mission statement still feels like a dare, Zeal & Ardor have proven remarkably resilient while staying essentially true to the concept of cross-pollinating African-American spiritual music with black metal. Industrial rhythms, gently plucked guitars and synthy soundscapes may haunt these realms, but the blood and fire reverberating through history’s dark corridors remains. Indeed, there are moments on this self-titled third album which find Zeal & Ardor at their heaviest-hitting yet, even as their musical singularity boasts definite crossover appeal.
Lead single Run is an early highlight, the soulful vocals of its verses soon overwhelmed by breakneck riff barrages and a ferocious taunt of, ‘Where’s your fucking God?’ Track titles like Death To The Holy and Church Burns offer knowing nods to black metal tradition, even as the stylistic echoes of slavery-era work songs suggest a deeper understanding of the genuine horrors of the past. Timelines and geography are further stretched on the intense Götterdämmerung, partially sung in German and evoking the terrifying cataclysms of Wagner’s identically-named opera.
It's not all planet-destroying, deity-bothering relentlessness, although even the pretty electronics of Emersion are interrupted by strafing blasts of blackgaze. Songs like Golden Liar trade metallic heaviness for humid atmosphere, with founder Manuel Gagneux’s expressive vocals powerful and melodic. On Bow, his cadences and lyrical focus recall hip-hop as much as blues, making it oddly appropriate that this album’s art so closely resembles a Run The Jewels sleeve.
As the buzzing drones of A-H-I-L bring this ambitious record to a fuzzy close, its creators’ ability to wrest drama and invention from what could have been a quirky musical dead end remains in sharp focus.
Zeal & Ardor is released on February 11 via MVKA
Last weekend, we headed west to ArcTanGent for three days of the weird, wonderful, and well-good. Here’s all the best bits…
Bloodstock have already confirmed 10 bands for next year’s line-up – including two headliners, Killswitch Engage and Megadeth!
Fresh from supporting Meshuggah, the mighty Zeal & Ardor are heading out on a mammoth 29-date tour in winter.
Zeal & Ardor’s take on black metal is an eclectic melting pot. But what inspires the broad church of noise? Mainman Manuel Gagneux reveals the musical heroes that guide him…
Bring Me The Horizon hit the cover of Kerrang! magazine as we discover how they took on their final form and why they’ll always do whatever the hell they want…
The Cover Story
Zeal & Ardor were only meant to be a one-time thing on the internet. Now, on the eve of their brilliant, self-titled third album, they’ve become celebrated as one of metal’s most forward-thinking bands. For mainman Manuel Gagneux, it’s a strange development to process. Here’s how he went from a teenage punk hanging out in Swiss squats, to the man lighting up heavy music…