Devil Is Fine is demanding, deeply affecting, dark and alluring. It’s an album that’s bold, occasionally bewildering but always compelling. Mixing tribal beats with music box melody and black metal, it’s not an easy record to categorise or consider in one sitting.
But stick with Zeal & Ardour – the one-man brainchild of Swiss-American musician Manuel Gagneux – and the reward is an inexplicable feeling of fulfilment.
Albums like Devil Is Fine don’t come along very often and every fresh listen reveals another layer of artistic brilliance. The jazzy, trippy What Is A Killer Like You Gonna Do Here is juxtaposed with child-friendly instrumental Sacrilegium II and the pounding, provocative title track.
At the heart of Gagneux’s philosophy is an alternate history that stems from two standpoints: Christianity was imposed upon American slaves (just as it was imposed in Norway) and black metal in the 90s grew as a rebellion to monotheism.
As a result Devil Is Fine is constantly questioning and frequently shocking. It’s unpredictable, uncontrollable and intense. It’s like nothing else.