Friday, 30 October 2020

Zeal And Ardor "Wake Of A Nation" (2020)

Wake Of A Nation, our state of current affairs are deeply rooted in this mini-albums reflection of the past and present, the ongoing social upheaval sparked by the death of George Floyd earlier this year. Zeal And Ardor has been a beacon of excitement in recent years, a fantastical fusion of Black Metal and historical Chain-Gang music. Conceived as an imagined union of slave struggles and satanic rebellion, its inception was magic but notably tacky in the best of ways. With a leap forward in musical maturity on Stranger Fruit, the promises began to blossom but now through the lens of a concise expression, this seventeen minute plunge commands attention as its wades between ferocious exorcisms of righteous anger and bluesy emotional vulnerabilities.

Baked into its expression are the infamous lines and words echoed into the minds of many from the horrific event transpiring in the hands of cops. Both through his lyrics and with audio samples from the event, these five songs remind us of the horror, ask the questions and repeatedly unravel into sprawls of fury and rage. One of its hardest hitting verses, "I know how you're going to die, whispers weary mother to child, we've seen this all before you were born", comes through these bluesy piano led passages of downtrodden melody, a new counterpart to the extremities that looks beyond the scope of its Chain-Gang origin. Although this remains on Trust No One, a song with a menacing wail of high pitched guitar over stomping riffs, the expansion in songwriting is an endearing one.

Its social-political message around Black Lives Matter is hard felt. Looking beyond that scope, the motive has clearly spearheaded the exception music. With snarling discernible screams leading the eruptions of dark extremities, its gravity of brevity can be felt in texture alone and when the music propels into darkness the shrill assault of blasting drums and drive of nihilistic guitars is bursting with atmosphere drenched in emotional turmoil. Each of its songs bring a spice and equally, the "clean" side comes with enticing flavors that have endured my back to back spins of this stunning record.

Of all the listens, not once did the production value cross my mind. With no obviously over polished elements or fidelity lacking focuses, it has served its purpose stealthily, a very good sign. It could simply be that the contents of music and subject matter are so strong it carries the record alone. At seventeen minutes its a streak of excellence that an album may have stretched thin, a good choice to keep it all hyper focused. Wake Of A Nation is without a weak moment, steeped in urgent inspiration that's manifested in the context of an artist still refining their sound. With new angles and elements playing in wonderfully their future looks bright. Lastly, I have to comment on the police batons forming the upside down cross, a perfect image to represent this artists moment in time.

Rating: 8/10