The diverse yet cohesive nature of the sixteen tracks on Stranger Fruit is designed to encourage the listener to dig a little deeper and find their own meaning in its words. These songs are deliberately intended to play off each other both lyrically and musically. While the record seethes with justifiable rage, its wider-reaching aim is to unify and inspire action, not to divide and create inertia. Superficially, the album tells isolated stories, but there are references to the Goetia, Yoruba, and obscure occult literature and history.
Mixing blues, gospel, and soul with harsher music has opened up a world of possibilities for Gagneux. Previously creating as a one man solo effort, the immense interest and critical acclaim Zeal & Ardor attracted upon release of debut album Devil Is Fine, has led to the project becoming a fully-fledged, internationally-touring band. After months hidden away, crafting the new songs for Stranger Fruit, Gagneux entered the studio with producer Zebo Adam and mixer Kurt Ballou (Converge, Kvelertak, Nails). While the finished sound is larger and heavier, it is still unmistakably Zeal & Ardor.
Stranger Fruit is available on multiple formats, including CD, cassette, vinyl, and digital download/stream. For vinyl fans, there’s a 2LP 180g gatefold vinyl or a 2LP limited deluxe 180g triple gatefold purple vinyl.
It’s a busy month for Zeal & Ardor. The band are preparing for a series of live shows (including a London headline show & a slot at Download Festival).
Zeal & Ardor is the one-man brainchild of Manuel Gagneux, a Swiss-American formerly based in New York City. His approach draws on an alternate history and stems from two thoughts: Christianity was imposed upon American slaves, just as it was imposed in Norway, and black metal in the ’90s grew as a rebellion to monotheism. What would have happened if American slaves had rebelled in the same way? Or put bluntly: What would satanic spirituals sound like? First album Devil Is Fine was released globally in February 2017. Zeal & Ardor have been generating significant buzz ever since, with accolades piling up from both musical peers and international media, including Noisey, Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Kerrang!, The Guardian, The Independent, Metal Hammer, Upset, Brooklyn Vegan, and many more.