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Stranger Fruit

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Zeal & Ardor 6/15/2018

Review

The sophomore studio effort from the Swiss-American avant-garde metal ensemble led by Manuel Gagneux, Stranger Fruit delivers on the promise of Zeal & Ardor's 2016 debut via a vital amalgam of blues, black metal, and African American spirituals. An unholy union of Alan Lomax, Algiers, and Burzum, the 16-track set is downright biblical in its spleen, with Gagneux spreading the inverted gospel -- what if the slaves of the Antebellum South had pledged their allegiance to Satan instead of Jesus? -- against a commanding backdrop of field hollers and blastbeats. A pickaxe kicks up dirt and a solemn hymn is hummed on the table-setting "Intro," which rests on the lyric "Ain't no lord gonna help you now" before launching itself into the gaping maw of night via a seismic blast of double-kick drum and sepulchral distortion. "Gravedigger's Chant" adopts a more theatrical tone, pairing Burlesque drama with bluesy, barroom swagger, a recipe that's used again on the blistering "Row Row" and the blazing "Ship's on Fire" -- Gagneux's soulful wail reaches Tom Waits-ian levels of carny bellicosity on the latter cut. Stranger Fruit's two most affecting offerings, "You Ain't Coming Back" and "Built on Ashes," use straight gospel blues as a sonic blueprint, but there's no salvation or hope to be unearthed, only discord, fury, and decibels. That the Norwegian-style black metal elements that find their way into each never sound like a contrivance is a small miracle, and a testament to Gagneux's unwavering commitment to honor both genres equally. ~ James Christopher Monger
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  1. # Track Artist Length
  2. 1 Intro Zeal & Ardor 2:12
  3. 2 Gravedigger's Chant Zeal & Ardor 3:9
  4. 3 Servants Zeal & Ardor 3:28
  5. 4 Don't You Dare Zeal & Ardor 3:27
  6. 5 Fire of Motion Zeal & Ardor 2:26
  7. 6 The Hermit Zeal & Ardor 2:39
  8. 7 Row Row Zeal & Ardor 3:4
  9. 8 Ship on Fire Zeal & Ardor 3:31
  10. 9 Waste Zeal & Ardor 3:17
  11. 10 You Ain't Coming Back Zeal & Ardor 3:16
  12. 11 The Fool Zeal & Ardor 2:24
  13. 12 We Can't Be Found Zeal & Ardor 3:30
  14. 13 Stranger Fruit Zeal & Ardor 3:27
  15. 14 Solve Zeal & Ardor 1:22
  16. 15 Coagula Zeal & Ardor 1:33
  17. 16 Built On Ashes Zeal & Ardor 4:32
  18. 1 Waste Zeal & Ardor null:null
  19. 2 You Ain't Coming Back Zeal & Ardor null:null
  20. 3 The Fool Zeal & Ardor null:null
  21. 4 We Can't Be Found Zeal & Ardor null:null
  22. 5 Stranger Fruit Zeal & Ardor null:null
  23. 6 Solve Zeal & Ardor null:null
  24. 7 Coagula Zeal & Ardor null:null
  25. 8 Built on Ashes Zeal & Ardor null:null

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