Zeal & Ardor, Pryapisme and Combineharvester at the Underworld - live review

NY’s slave metallers continue their rapid rise

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It’s incredibly rare that a band sell out a venue as prestigious as the Underworld on their third gig, but that’s where we are tonight. Firstly, though, COMBINEHARVESTER [6] and PRYAPISME [3] provide a mere distraction, the former dealing in supremely challenging post-noise that takes utter concentration to understand, the latter offering nothing but wacky, eight-bit, tech-metal whimsy and movie samples. From the moment that Manuel Gagneux steps onstage with ZEAL & ARDOR [8] he conjures an atmosphere that is, much like the music he creates, unsettlingly unique. It doesn’t click immediately; In Ashes lacks the power sonically that their entrance delivered, but once the band build up a head of steam there are hints that they could be as special as you always hoped they would be. The new songs lean even more heavily towards the early blues influence, which makes sense as those are the segments that feel more savage and raw than the black metal at present. But these are minor gripes; when Manuel lets his incredible voice rip loose while flanked by his hooded backing singers, not to mention the power of 500 people present, in the final chants of set closer Devil Is Fine you realise that, even in this embryonic stage of their life, Zeal & Ardor are onto something special.