REVIEW: Zeal & Ardor – “Devil is Fine”
It’s almost seldom that one stumbles on a record so bloody epic in every damn sense of the word. A record that tears apart the notion of conventionality. A record that doesn’t simply unfold itself in a singular idea which make up the music. Yes, there’s a central concept to the theme of the music but there isn’t uniform sonic idea that that binds all of this. The idea here is to showcase a certain ambience and mood and the many ways to do that.
Zeal & Ardor is all about the many faces that make up one central dark theme. This is Satan’s jam straight up and boy, it sure is the (un)holy grail of darkened music. ‘Devil Is Fine’ is an apt representation of fusion and experimental music done right. I love the fact that record doesn’t stick to any form of conventionality.
The title track “Devil is Fine” is an oddly satisfying song. The build up with the singing and arrangement of percussions add to the climax which culminates when the other instruments kick in. While this as an idea sounds like it has been used, overused and abused, the way it was done in this case is exceptional. It’s something that you wouldn’t really expect. The darker side of the music begins to showcase itself with “In Ashes”. This song really is only about the moods it creates. It’s dark and violently ambient. The black metal side of things comes out relatively well on this one. And if it has to be only about the mood and the atmosphere, this song is essentially black metal-esque.
“Sacrilegium I” is all about that trance like mood that some of us would love to be in. The song is akin to chanting a hymn in a sermon. It’s safe to say this song itself can be a sermon. It’s a very small song, and a start to more parts that will follow. “Come On Down” is off to a bluesy start which soon intensifies as the extreme parts begin to make itself prominent in the music. The bluesy elements in the singing and the instrumental arrangements come and go as the song progresses. The transition between either extremes are surprisingly fluid and smooth. Nothing seems abrupt.
Continuing with all the surprises, “Children’s Summon” is full of them. This song is a great study for transitions that are not conventional. This song doesn’t sound contemporary at all. There are influences that are not necessarily from recent times. The chants, vocals, and the instrumentation represent different styles that seem to have come together because all of them despite being unlike, represent the same moods to the listener. This is the case both as individual parts/sections and as one track.
“Sacrilegium II” is a song filled with tension. On the outside it appears to be a distant relative of a children’s lullaby. In reality, this song is everything that shouldn’t be a children’s lullaby or anything even close. “Blood In The River” brings back some of the sounds seen earlier in the album. The crossover between the bluesy singing accompanied with percussive elements and rudiments of extreme metal make this song very impressive. Not to mention, the lyrics are great!
“What Is A Killer Like You Gonna Do Here” is a completely unlike every other song on the album. This song incorporated elements that are more popular with the everyday listener or as some of you might love to call a ‘pleb’. This song is simply fun to listen to.
“Sacrilegium III” is another instrumental song. This song is quite dissonant in many parts and it ends with a decent amount of dissonance and clipping. This is actually very interesting because I feel that it could also be symbolic of our own end.
‘Devil Is Fine’ by Zeal & Ardor is a work of art. This album is one of the best that 2017 has had to offer so far. Unconventional all the way. This record will give snobby elitists a run for their money. This record is an example of one of those times when artistic integrity actually has a massive appeal without the need for an acquired taste. While being being an extreme album in its own right, ‘Devil Is Fine’ is a memorable record. The biggest asset of the record is that its music is memorable. There is a great deal of stunning finesse in the record. Everything on this record is about the moods it creates. The unholy, dissonant and in some sense very traditionalist sounds are very meditative. The music will have you asking for more and it’ll inspire a lot more inquisitiveness. The production does justice to the vibe and the feel of the record. It’s a dark record no doubt. If you love your music like your coffee, this is for you. If Satan has a favourite record, it has to be this.