Zeal & Ardor + Pryapisme + Combineharvester
@ The Underworld Camden, London
April 20, 2017
Review by The Hun
Photography by Inty Malcolm
Let’s start the story of Zeal & Ardor’s first ever UK show at the beginning. About a year ago I scrolled through a Facebook group where other Hungarian music fanatics share interesting things they find on the internet. One guy sharing Zeal & Ardor’s ‘Devil Is Fine’ stated: it’s black metal with trip-hop, blues and gospel elements. This interested me as I like three out of these four genres but I couldn’t imagine how it would sound. It was something fresh and I liked it a lot so I shared it with a friend of mine (who happened to be one of the promoters of The Underworld) ’cause I knew she would love it. She said immediately that she wanted this band to play in Camden’s most known venue. One day she messaged me with the news: the man behind Zeal & Ardor – Manuel Gagneux – was recruiting a band and would play in London, and I was on the guest list.
Then the day came and because of a busy job, a shit commute and the stupid club night I managed to get to the venue late and I only saw the last two songs of the band called Combineharvester which was miserable.
The sound wasn’t good and the vocalist reminded me of a lame Eastern-European raver going on a date in the early 2000s.
With this name I thought the band was going to be something really heavy, like a New Orleans sludge outfit.
At least I had time to get something to drink and get my wristband to get backstage.
[Imagine early Hawkwind falling down a really long staircase..! Still, time for a pint. – Inty]
The second band was Pryapisme from France. When I saw the computer on the stage I was able to predict that something terrible was going to happen. And I was right. Totally right.
I’ve heard that they play experimental prog-metal but I would call it Nintendo techno ecstasy/MDMA ‘metal’.
One of them even had the moustache of Super Mario. I think a reviewer should watch and listen to all of the bands but I had to leave.
It’s not just that it reminded me of 90s Dutch house but it was mixed with the soundtrack of a bad horror movie with a clown and gave me the feeling that Hunter S. Thompson felt in the Bazooko Circus on ether.
I kinda missed the cabaret women and the polar bear… On the other hand the guys in Pryapisme are seriously amazing musicians.
Everything was on spot. They were brilliant but their music is not my cup of tea.
[On the other hand, I thought they were a huge amount of fun. They were clearly enjoying their first London gig, as was a large chunk of the crowd. Insane Nintendocore and grins all round; I’d go see them again in a heartbeat – please come back! – Inty]
Then came what I’ve waited for for a long time: Monsieur Gagneux and his band, Zeal & Ardor.
A year ago no one knew about him or his project and now with his first tour he made it to one of the most famous venues in London, and the gig was sold out.
It obviously means that people were interested in his art, not just everyday music lovers but serious people from major labels. I don’t think we ever going to see this band in a small venue like this again – in fact they are going to open for Prophets Of Rage at the O2 Brixton Academy in June.
There was less light during the set of Zeal & Ardor and it produced an amazing atmosphere. Manuel recruited good musicians around him; they were tight although the backing singers’ voices sometimes just didn’t fit into the music.
On the album ‘Devil Is Fine’ those were more soulful. But his voice was brilliant and his whole entity is amazing on stage. The audience – which was a weird mixture of music lovers – sang many songs like anthems; the debut record of Zeal & Ardor is an instant classic for sure.
Both the musicians and the people who were there had fun. I was happy that they finished the set with the song ‘Devil Is Fine’. This song get me into Zeal & Ardor and it is the fans’ favourite: nearly the whole crowd chanted those words ‘the devil is fiiiiiine’.
It was more than just a gig. It was a ceremony.
A year ago I knew that the album and the artist were both going to get big, but I did not assume it would happen this fast. Now the only question is what will happen now. Many people will see them on their first tour and most will enjoy what they’ll get. If Manuel Gagneux walks the right path, Zeal & Ardor is going to be great in every level. And I can’t wait for that.
[Yup. That. Also it was very dark – Inty]