Watch: FIRST LISTEN with Manuel Gagneux of Zeal & Ardor

Zeal & Ardor released their self-titled full length on Friday February 11th. A genre defining mix of blues, soul, and black metal, Manuel Gagneux, mastermind being Zeal & Ardor is a pioneering force in the genre. We were fortunate enough to have Manuel join us for the first listen of his album on release day.

A long time in the making, Manuel joked during the interview: “There were a couple of times where I drank a little bit and I figured, ‘I might just leak it.’” And it is true! The first single for the album was released on May 25th, 2021, nearly nine months ago. But it was well worth the wait.

During the interview, the thing that stood out, beyond the music, was Manuel's humility and sense of humor. “I just make music for myself and I’m really lucky that other people are into it. But we’ve gotten so far that if tomorrow it is done and over with, I’d still be stoked that we got to do it," he said of his expectations surrounding the album's release.

One of the defining characteristics of the metal genre is experimentation. Music should challenge, both in style and context and Zeal & Ardor has been doing this for a number of years. The self-titled work is no exception. The groove and rhythm of the American south meet the anguish and fiery passion of black metal, creating something that sounds like the Devil’s gospel.

As with everything Zeal & Ardor, Manuel plays every instrument except the drums, remarking that one track had to be slowed down for the drummer to keep up. How he makes it all pull together is the ultimate question, but the answer is simple: he just does.

Zeal & Ardor are a band on the precipice of major success both within Europe and here in the states. Their distinctively primal sound is one that has earned them the mantle of one of Europe’s most promising acts. Check out First Listen below to see why and gain a little more insight into the album.