Zeal & Ardor Brisbane (Brisbane, QLD)

28 February 2019 at The Brightside

Sam Haven brings his Australian dark ambience to the stage as the nights first support act. To me he has he resemblances to an early Kid Congo Powers mixed with darker tones. With a band supporting him in orchestral keyboards & a bassist complementing the composers’ moans with screaming backing vocals, this was a pleasant first experience of Sam Haven for this old Swampy. I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled for more of his feedback driven Gothic dirge. Ear food available here – https://samhaven.bandcamp.com

Second support were the silent but loud Brisbane lads Balloons Kill Babies who entertained with their instrumental prowess. They describe themselves as “Communicating without words” which is an apt description. Barefoot & ready to entertain were bassist & guitarist Twiggy Carter & Karl O’Shea, with former Dead Letter Circus drummer Scott Davey powering on the drums. They certainly have a following behind them with many of the punters dancing & swaying along to the undulating sounds that the 3 piece delivered. They have a debut EP titled Leviathan from 2013 plus the latest work entitled Prodromal which came out in 2017. If instrumental metal is your thing keep your ears peeled for Balloons Kill Babies.

Now to the piece de resistance – Zeal & Ador who have now been added to the top 10 live performances I have seen in my 30 years of seeing live bands.  What an incredible soundscape that comes from the mastermind (lead vocalist/guitarist) behind the ceremony Manuel Gagneux. From the first introductory song Sacrilegium I we are transported into a land of mixed sounds, from Gospel, to Blues & Slavery chants, to Soul, to thrashing hair flying Metal. If you haven’t heard of the Swiss based band then you are missing out on something that in a time where most things are carbon copies of the past – this is the NEW SH!T. They then proceeded into In Ashes which for me holds some deep meaning personally as a descendant of Kanaka slaves, the sounds & lyrics hitting deep that state “Burn the young boy, burn him good, wash the crimson stains from the field”. Incredible. From the content to the stage – beginning as a solo project in 2013 Gagneux expanded to a full lineup with two backing vocalists Denis Wagner & Marc Obrist which brings such connection to the audience with their vocals & harmonising, Tiziano Volante on guitar, Mia Rafaela Dieu on bass & completing the collaboration is Marco Von Allmen on drums. The energy of the band live was palpable, the emotion expressed & the connectivity to the audience. Such an entertaining show!! I could rabbit on about each song but in my eyes they cannot do any wrong. Each song is an incredible avant-garde creation which had the crowd headbanging, singing, dancing & cheering from beginning to the very end, screaming for more. Absolute brilliance! Zeal & Ardor have two albums so far Devil Is Fine (2016) & Stranger Fruit (2018) & a demo album Zeal & Ardor (2014). Get all of them, listen to them over & over, catch them live & bathe in this incredible band. I am privileged to have been able to try & put words to the wordless gratitude I feel.  Music is food for the soul & this is the cream! 


Line-up: Zeal & Ardor, Balloons Kill Babies, Sam Haven

Reviewer: Tina Summers