Background: If one were to look at the most original metal bands to emerge in the past 10 years, Zeal & Ardor would have to come up in the conversation. At their core, this band combines the extreme metal elements of black metal with negro spiritual music. The results have frankly been fantastic causing them to make quite a stir within the music scene of recent history. This was seen with previous records on 2017’s “Devil Is Fine” and 2018’s “Stranger Fruit”. Now, Zeal & Ardor are back to make magic again with their new EP “Wake of a Nation. It comes complete with a cover depicting an upside-down cross made of night sticks, giving one an impression that this record may very well cover the topic of oppression in the modern day.
This EP Sounds Like: a politically charged and focused effort from a rising star of a metal band. This is the next natural step of Zeal & Ardor’s evolution and coincides perfectly with current events. It’s an angry voice of the oppressed. Ultimately, this is a large-scale, beautifully devastating body of new music from the band.
Some Favorite Tracks: The whole record flows quite well and is worth the full listen. My personal favorites would have to be “Tuskegee”, “At the Seams” and “Trust No One”. The title track is also an experimental gem.
Positives: Musical creativity. As I said before, for a band already so out of the box, this seems like another natural step. The feel of this record is huge, dark, somber and cinematic. They certainly nail down the emotions given the heavy content put forth here. And, at the end of the day, music is essentially emotion in the form of sound so we can check that box safely. Every member gives a standout performance making up the greater whole of Zeal & Ardor. This is a band that knows how to hit the right notes and remain solid within their songwriting. There’s a good variety to the content. For example, having heard none of the singles prior to listening I actually questioned if they were still going to be heading in the extreme metal direction with the first track being lighter than their previous fare. It’s safe to say they delivered in kind despite my initial misconceptions. Furthermore, they handle every approach quite well. The production on this thing is also notable. Just very well done all around.
Negatives: Subjectively, some moments of the EP hit harder than others. Objectively, I don’t envision everyone enjoying a Zeal & Ardor record but that’s okay. Of course, being an EP, it felt way too short and I ended up wanting more. So that’s a good-ish / bad-ish problem to have. It ultimately led me to re-visit their previous content.
In The End… This is a thoroughly excellent little bite of Zeal & Ardor. If this was an appetizer to a full meal, I would rate it quite highly while anticipating what comes next. So, as it stands, I don’t really have a problem giving this one a high 9 out of 10 (I’ve been giving many 9’s recently but 2020 has been a spoil of riches). If you wish to experience this for yourself, check the streams across this page and prepare yourselves for what they may come up with next. It’s also recommended that you check their previous work because it’s all quality. Long live Zeal & Ardor!