Zeal & Ardor: Tuska Festival 2024

Amidst the whirlwind of TUSKA 2024, one act emerged as a transformative experience: Zeal & Ardor. Led by Swiss-American vocalist Manuel Gagneux, this avant-garde metal ensemble defied expectations and left an indelible mark on the festival.

Prior to TUSKA’s announcement, Zeal & Ardor had been an unfamiliar name to me. It wasn’t until the morning bus ride to the festival that I sampled their music, yet their performance later that day would redefine my expectations of live music.

Combining elements of black metal, blues, gospel, and soul, Zeal & Ardor crafted a sound that was as haunting as it was mesmerising. Gagneux’s soulful vocals intertwined seamlessly with atmospheric black metal, creating a juxtaposition that was both jarring and deeply moving. Their music delved into themes of African-American folklore, slavery, and spirituality, offering a profound and thought-provoking narrative that resonated with the audience.

The setting sun provided a perfect backdrop as Zeal & Ardor’s performance unfolded, casting an atmospheric glow over their stage presence. Tracks like “Devil Is Fine” and “Built on Ashes” captivated the crowd, their raw intensity and emotional depth palpable in the gathering dusk.

For me, their show epitomised the power of live music in transforming perceptions. Their ability to blend disparate genres into a cohesive and evocative whole was nothing short of revelatory. The darkness that enveloped their set amplified the impact of every note, every lyric, leaving me with chills that lingered long after the final chord had faded.

Zeal & Ardor’s journey from obscurity to acclaim has been propelled by their bold artistic vision and willingness to challenge musical conventions. Albums like “Stranger Fruit” and “Wake of a Nation” have solidified their place as pioneers in contemporary music, pushing boundaries and captivating audiences with their daring fusion of styles.

As I reflect on TUSKA 2024, Zeal & Ardor’s performance stands out not just as a highlight of the day, but as a testament to the transformative power of music. They have rightfully earned their place among the most intriguing and forward-thinking acts in today’s musical landscape, leaving an unforgettable impression on all who were fortunate enough to witness their mesmerising display of artistry and emotion.

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Artists: Zeal & Ardor