LIVE REVIEW: Zeal & Ardor and Sylvaine – 10/1/22 @ The Bluebird Theater, Denver, CO

Formed in 2013 as a solo project under the helm of Manuel Gagneux, Zeal and Ardor have been creating unique, avant-garde music for over a decade. In 2016, Gagneux enlisted a full line-up of members to expand the band’s sound and bring the ritualistic music to the live stage. Since then, Zeal and Ardor have shown no signs of slowing down. Currently in the midst of a US tour, Zeal and Ardor returned to Colorado this past Saturday to lay waste to the Bluebird Theater with support from Sylvaine and Imperial Triumphant.

As the doors opened at 7pm, eager fans began to fill the beautiful hall of the Bluebird Theater. The merch lines quickly filled and the drinks began to flow. The show kicked off at 8pm with Imperial Triumphant who warmed the crowd up with an abbreviated set consisting of fuzzy noise and theatrical antics. As their set finished, the theatre was filled to what seemed to be close to max-capacity. The stage was then set for Sylvaine.

Just before 9pm Sylvaine took the stage to a packed house. Led by Norway’s Kathrine Shepard, the band graced the crowd with their melancholic, yet intense,  shoegaze sound. Sylvaine is currently  touring in support of their latest release, Nova, which was came out in March of this year. The setlist spanned the entirety of their discography, pleasing fans both old and new. The clean guitars shimmered through the speakers while the distorted tones hit like a wall of bricks. The bass was heavy and the rhythm section didn’t miss a beat. The set was full of passion and energy. Sylvaine is quickly becoming one of my favorites, and I’ll always see them live when I get the chance. 

Finally it was time for Zeal and Ardor. The crowd erupted as the lights dimmed and the sigil of lucifer glowed on the backdrop behind the stage. The set began with “Churchburn” which sent the crowd into a frenzy.  Blending blues, soul, gospel, and metal, Zeal and Ardor is a breath of fresh air for metal fans looking for something a little different. The heavy moments of the set ignited a mosh pit that filled what little floor space was available at the front of the stage. The 20 song setlist spanned Zeal’s discography and included tracks “Ship on Fire,” “We Can’t Be Found,” and “Devil Is Fine.” The flame of Zeal and Ardor continues to grow and I can’t wait to see what the future holds. Don’t sleep on this tour, you won’t be disappointed.

– Corey Smith

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