Imagine for a second, if Nat Turner hadn't fueled his slave rebellion by turning to his white-imposed Christian faith in messianic fervor, but instead by turning on it and going full metal. Imagine Turner's army chanting “the river bed will run red with the blood of the saints and the blood of the holy” as they went about their bloody business beneath Satanic sigils. That's the idea behind Zeal and Ardor's debut full length Devil is Fine: a Satanic slave rebellion. Started as something of a joke, the project took on a life of its own as Manuel Gagneux found unexpected depth in the concept. It's a black metal album that merges spirituals, metal riffs, and electronic melodies into something totally unique and captivating.
By Nathan Leigh, AFROPUNK contributor
First things first: there are no samples. Influenced by the sound of Lomax's field recordings of prison work songs, Gagneux set about writing his own Satanic spirituals, making lofi recordings of them and sampling himself. The best of them “Devil Is Fine,” “Come On Down,” and “Blood In The River” build off these imagined classic recordings, willing his alternate history into being through the vividness of his imagination and sheer force of loudness. The songs are flanked by a trio of instrumentals titled “Sacrilegium” which cut against the epic bloody scale of the album by sounding something like the soundtrack to the most fucked up Square SNES RPG ever. (But also maybe the best one?) It's an odd choice, on an album deep with unexpected choice, and maybe none of them should work on paper, but somehow they add up to something profound.
Above photo: Noisey