Zeal and Ardor
Devil is Fine
As weird as Devil is Fine (and I’ll get to that), Zeal and Ardor mastermind Manuel Gagneux clearly has an understanding of what the essence of black metal is. Aside from panda face paint, slaughtering goats, and scaring suburban moms, black metal is about rallying against oppression and tyranny. In the 80s, that theme was applied to religious fundamentalism and the rising tide of too-powerful European governments. Ultimately, black metal spoke to the primal urge for true freedom from all that oppresses us and limits our potential.
That is where the fascinating-on-paper-and-on-
Regardless, Devil is Fine is short and very damn sweet, and the electronic oddities are less a misstep and more a curiosity. When Zeal and Ardor’s full potential is unleashed (“In Ashes” and “Children’s Summon” notably), the results are mind-melting. This is truly brilliant in a way that the most challenging art often is, but that’s the rub: Devil is Fine for all its novelty, is actually really easy to get lost in and spin over and over. This is something truly special, more than just a weird mash-up. It works and makes the insanity have a greater purpose. I can’t wait to hear what Zeal and Ardor do next.