Devil Is Fine is the debut studio album by Manuel Gagneux, under his alias Zeal & Ardor.

Devil Is Fine Zeal & Ardor

I can’t remember where I read the quote, Joe Rogan comes to mind for some reason, paraphrasing, “In order to grow, you need to get uncomfortable.”

May not be exact, but you get the idea.

Lately, I have been trying to come to terms with a possible aural burnout. I still enjoy music but not as much as I used to.

Back in the day, I would get genuinely excited about any band I liked dropping a new album. I would “fast” before the release date, not listening to any of their prior stuff and trying to stay away from the radio and tv so that I would be able to hear the album in its entirety without having any preconceived notions. It could have been the fact that I had less disposable income back then and I was more careful with what I spent my money on. Nowadays, CDs and downloads have made things more accessible and at a lower cost. No longer do I have to wait until the local record shop opened up at 10 AM and I could go and plunk down my hard earned money for the latest releases. Now I can pre-order albums and have them automagically delivered to my mailbox on the day of release or I can wait until 12:01 AM on the day of release and just download the tracks from one of many sites (tending to stick with the one that would provide the artist with the biggest share of my dollar).

Another thought that crossed my mind recently is I think that I have been setting my expectations too high. Maybe I think that I am going to really like an album and get disappointed when I don’t. When dating in High School, you think that you are going to be with that person for as long as you can. For some it’s a week, a semester and for some it’s longer. Maybe I was spending a lot of energy looking for another perfect album (the proverbial Mr. Right) that I would enjoy listening to until the end of my days. And while on the hunt for “Mr. Right”, I would only come up with “Mr. Right Now.” Albums that would satisfy me for a little while and then I would move on.

Getting back to being uncomfortable…

Devil Is Fine was critically acclaimed and on a lot of “Top” lists in 2016. One review I read online said that the album sounded like a marriage of black metal and Negro spirituals. If I wanted to get uncomfortable, then this sounded like the best place to dive into the deep end. Before buying the album, I told myself that I was going to try and give it a true chance. I may not like it because it’s different than most of what I listen to on a regular basis, nevertheless I was going to persist.

It did take me a couple of listens from start to finish to hear what the album was about. Could be a prejudice I have, but I always think that artists that play all the instruments on their own album are going to be of lesser quality than an album produced at a big studio with musicians only playing one or two instruments each. Or that the music is going to sound the same track after track.

Zeal & Ardor impressed me. Yes, it’s a genre that is not at the top of my #NowPlaying but, I can see myself becoming more comfortable with the melodic black metal genre and exploring more bands in the same vein.

Now that I have gone through Devil Is Fine a number of times, it has quickly become a favorite of mine. It blends a new-to-me genre and couple that with an album, complete at only 24 minutes. I can listen to it from start to finish and not feel burnt on any of the tracks. I can’t think of a bad track on the album, it all fits together nicely.



 TrackLength
1.Devil Is Fine3:13
2.In Ashes2:39
3.Sacrilegium I2:01
4.Come On Down3:20
5.Children's Summon3:09
6.Sacrilegium II2:11
7.Blood In The River3:33
8.What Is A Killer Like You Gonna Do Here?2:15
9.Sacrilegium III2:44