Zeal & Ardor – Ieperfest 2017

Ieper Hardcore Fest is known globally as a full on hardcore festival but with such an extended line up they also seem to sneak in some non typical bands each year. This year they've managed to get one of the most talked about acts in metal to their fest. Zeal & Ardor, the brainchild of Swiss musician Manuel Gagneux emerged onto the scene last year and took the world by storm with it's unique blend of black metal accompanied by satanic gospel. RMP Magazine caught up with Manuel to discuss Zeal & Ardor and their upcoming endeavours.


Welcome to Ieperfest, a mostly hardcore fest. This is the first Zeal and Ardor tour and it's taking you to a lot of different places already. Could you let us in where you've been so far?

Yeah, all over the fucking place. Germany, Londen, Luxembourg is the closest we got to here i think. Roadburn fest, Poland, a lot of place.

You opened for Prophets Of Rage recently in Londen and shared the stage with Marilyn Manson. Not too shabby for a first tour…

That's pretty fucking amazing for us too.

Devil Is Fine is Zeal & Ardor's debut and originally it was only on bandcamp. Luckily Reflection Records from the Netherlands picked it up and released it. Reflection is mostly hardcore and metal influenced in their releases. How did a Swiss bedroom project get noticed by them?

I don't know. Johan from Reflection, i don't know how he got his hands on it but he picked it up and he wrote me an e-mail. He wanted to print it. That was awesome.

Next to Zeal & Ardor you also have another project, Birdmask. That actually was your main project before Zeal & Ardor came to life with the genius idea to combine spirituals and black metal. What's happening with Birdmask at the moment?

I'm still recording songs but i don't really have a specific plan for it yet. For me it's important to have both, to have a balance and keep things interesting. Something will happen but i don't know what yet.

Some songs may be considered sacrireligious, and not just for Christianity. Could you explain the 'Haram' sounds on the album?

Yeah, originally there was an occult prayer which is changed. As soon as you change something from the Quran it's Haram. I just find changing a sacrireligious act. Maybe too strong a word. I think it's an interesting thing to do and also very important. Because if we don't change things or norms it will just be stale and stagnant. For progress i think.

What started as a one man project has become a full on band. You even have back up singers. How different is the band compared to what you produced on the record?

The thing is we have different people in the US, for these shows it's different people. Two backing vocals though. It's very different but in the best possible way. Because six people on stage you can't compare it to one, it's so much more energy. Also very flavourfull, because they are all my friends and they are also brillant musicians. They bring interesting additions to the sound.

Your logo and artwork are a direct link to the music and influences of Zeal & Ardor. A pimped Sigil of Lucifer opposed to a picture of Robert Smalls. Both symbols of rebellion in their own way.

What would be the main message that Zeal & Ardor want to transmit to it's audience?

Exactly, I don't really have a message. It's just kind of summarising what is on the record. Again, rebellion, sacrireligious acts, just overstepping boundaries. Or trying too, because that sound fucking arrogant as fuck. Trying to overstep boundaries.

The sigil was also made into a branding iron that may be used to brand fans if they wish too. Any luck so far with the branding?

We've used it on two people so far. They're permantely branded. They have a good souvenir, a lasting one. It's a smell you'll never forget. Burning flesh.

There's talk of new material coming in the nearby future, any details on what to expect?

Since the first record is like only twenty minutes long and we play longer than twenty minutes because that would be a shitty show. There is already a lot of new material we will be performing now. And the next record will be out next June maybe. I don't want to haste too much. That will be interesting.


Mark My Way – Ieperfest 2017

Mark My Way are and up and coming band from the Ypres region in Flanders that have been building up a vast following over the five years in their existence with their unique approach to hardcore intertwined with rap. 2017 seems to be the year that the puzzle pieces are falling together for them with a new EP The Big Game and opening the main stage of the 2017 edition of Ieperfest. 

Time to catch up with the band and find out all about their new EP and future endeavours. 


Today is a special day for Mark My Way, your EP release is today at Ieperfest and you just played the mainstage. How has it been untill now?

It's been quite amazing so far, we've had a lot of good reactions. Also really happy that we finally released the new EP, The Big Game. And that we can combine it with a day like today. And of course, Ieperfest, we're a band from Ypres, we're literally from two streets down the road.

So it's a home match, we're really honoured that we were invited.

As people from Ypres, it's only a dream i guess to play such a festival.

We grew up coming to Ieperfest for years, we've helped out as volunteers.

Also the quality of the soundcheck and such, the monitors and more. We're used to playing smaller venues and this was just for real. The sound is pretty tight.

But you also have a release party planned in home town Ieper, september 9th at Vort'n Vis venue.

What can the fans expect for that night?

Saturday 9th of september, we've teamed up with Apocalyps Now Department. You can see it as a subdivision of some people who work for Ieperfest. They put a line up together with us with great bands we can't afford ourselves. Like Slope who played The Trench this afternoon. It's catchy, groovy hardcore on the rise, a name you will hear a lot about. It's a good match. Abashed and In Clover are playing too.

The CD release party is also for the people who couldn't make it today. Some friend of ours. We don't expect them to the pay the full price for today just to come see us. And also it's in the Vort'n Vis.

You just received some other great news. A compilation release of previous EP and demo on Genet Records. What can the listener expect and when?

We're really happy. It's going to be released fall of 2017. Our newest LP Lustrum : Joy As Profit in three colorways, a limited press of about 300 pieces. IT features our newest EP, Save Our Souls EP from 2014 and our demo from 2012. All together it's 15 songs i guess.

We're really honoured that they see something in us. That they think this is a good step for us.

The Big Game is the title of the new EP, it's derived from a part of your lyrics.

Could you tell us some more about what The Big Game means to you?

As the singer i write the lyrics and The Big Game actually stands for life in general. I feel like life is something you can see as a game. It has it's own rules and to me those are the rules. Confrontation in order to change. That's what i do in my lyrics, i confront myself with things that i feel, that i see. I use that confrontation to get other ideas. I feel like that everyone should now that life is a game they play.

That's also why the artwork is a distorted chess board. It refers to the game, it's distorted, it's not smooth, life does not go smooth.

And the Kingpin you only see the little yellow cross, just to express how difficult it could be to survive in this.

For me the EP is about figuring out how to handle stuff that you have to endure.

Hardcore is a very conscious group of people, i guess in the lyrics you can also feel a lot more emotion than just another pop band. Hardcore always refers to the deeper stuff, the harder stuff. I guess that is what The Big Game is about.

It will be released on CD and tape by local record label Kick Out The Jams. How did you end up with them?

Ieper pre fest was the first time Angelo asked to talk. That was in 2013. He said look i really like what you do. He gave me the notion that he was interested in working together. Then we got a show in Wervik with Deconsecrate, the band of Andy who also works for KOTJ. Apparently Angelo had said to Andy to check us out. They just contacted us and we've been working with them for four years now.

They've been the biggest support, they have us so many opportunities. And they help us out with advice and the artwork for the EP. We couldn't have come so far without Kick Out The Jams.

About the new EP, i noticed you worked with Pieterjan Haemers from My Aim to produce the EP. Another local up and coming talent, and you also made a video for Stay In The Light. How was the cooperation?

It's nice to have the freedom with Pieter-Jan,because recordings are mostly paid per hour but with him it's per track. We have a lot of room for creating songs. He's also a really good producer.

Because we've played a lot of shows with My Aim, he's just a friend of ours. He's always honest and comes up with ideas. He's just a delight to work with. He knows what vibe you want.

A lot of specific tunes on the EP were written in the studio.

Like the sample for I See Through was completely written in the studio.

The muscial style of Mark My Way is heavily influenced by hardcore but Hip Hop has a huge influence too. How did this come by?

A couple of years back i really got into Hip Hop, i played in another band and i had the idea of maybe i should try and rap but they weren't that fond of it. And then Niek and Louis (former band member) came to me, hey you're singing in that other band how do you feel to come and try to sing for us as well. As the other band was quitting, I said yeah, they told me they were going for this E-Town Concrete vibe and i'm a huge fan of E-Town Concrete.

Ok, these guys are going to be open to me rapping and trying some new stuff. I think it went really well and we all got along. Now with The Big Game i feel it's not more just ike rapping in Hip Hop,

but i has the same kind of flow and the way i write lyrics. It's a bit more agressive. It's still there.

Lyrically, Mark My Way tries to keep a positive outlook on life but some tracks can be more misanthropic. Like Gaia Prevails/Man Fails paints a rather bleak image. Could you tell us some more about the song and what you're trying to put out there?

Most of the lyrics are things that i see in the world. The way humans interact with each other, the way humans interact with nature and the enviroment. The other stuff is more like personal stuff. Confrontation for myself, writing about it. Because i feel like if you have some trouble with something writing about it, talking about it, singing it, putting music to it really helps. Like with Gaia sometimes i wouldn't say i'm pissed off but i need to get it of my chest. It's something that keeps my busy and it comes out a bit dark. It's a darker perspective. The point is for me is take this as something that you learn and get on with it. Just like Stay In The Light is a song that goes about death, when my parents read it they were like, did you write this? What is this. They were a bit shocked. For me it's a really positive song. It's about moving on.

What's next for Mark My Way?

13th of September we have a show in Geneva and maybe a couple more, we're trying to figure it out now.

We're planning to write an album in about one year from now. And just play gigs. Maybe shoot a new video.

Because now all the songs that are on the EP are songs we've played live a lot for quite a while now.

I think we now have found our sound.

Comeback Kid

Winnipeg, Manitoba, the city seems to have something different in their water seeing all the great bands hailing from this infamous Canadian city. When Winnipeg hardcore sensation Comeback Kid played at the amazing Jera On Air festival near the end of June, RMP Magazine couldn't refuse the the opportunity to talk to guitar player Jeremy about their new upcoming album and what's in store for Comeback Kid in the nearby future.

Welcome to Jera, your first time here. Looking forward?

I think it's our first time here. I look at all the names and i'm surprised we haven't been here before.

You kicked of the Euro tour last week with Graspop in Belgium and Hellfest in France, nice weather for the festivals!

It's definitely, it's a little on the warm side but it's good for the festivals. It's either raining or hot. Groezrock sometimes it's like a little colder.

Comeback Kid is releasing a new album soon, Outsider is scheduled for early september on Nuclear Blast records. A first time co-operation with this German label after a long relation with Victory records?

Well, we had our record contract finished with Victory. We weren't opposed to working with Victory but we also wanted to see what else interest was out there. The more we talked to Nuclear Blast and just the people, let's do this. The overall conscensus was that this was going to be a good one for the band. Trying something a little bit different. We're coming to Europe so much that it seems important to have a record label that is based in Europe. That understands how a band like Comeback Kid fits in the whole European circle of touring and festivals. So we are just excited to do it with them.

You also did an online Q&A few days ago, on the Nuclear Blast Facebook. How was the response from the fans?

Yeah, that was interesting. It think it was our first time doing it, for us trying different things like that it's a little bit of getting used to. You see the questions pop up and you quickly try to answer them but new questions keep popping up, somebody else sees something they want to answer.

It can be kind of a shit show but i think it's fun.

So Outsider, the album cover looks amazing with the smoking head but would should the listener expect from your latest offspring?

I think the easiest way to explain it is, especially for people that are long time Comeback Kid fans, we never try to put out the same record twice. We always try to challenge ourselves but also stay inside our perimeters. We don't want to do a soft rock album or a full on grindcore. We have certain perimeters we work withing. We want to be creative with that. So there's going to be some stuff that could sound like it came from the last record, maybe a few records ago. It's all over the place. There's going to be thirteen songs on it.

You already released the song Absolute featuring Devin Townsend. How did this come by, working with a Canadian God?

Andrew, our singer plays in another band called Sights and Sounds and Devin produced an album for them a long time ago. And Stu our other guitar player he plays Misery Signals, and Devin produced a Misery Signals record. So we have those contacts with him. Just when it was time to do vocals for that song it all started growing, this one part. We were kind of joking about the idea, this is kind of Devin Townsend stuff, Strapping Young Lad. Maybe we should ask him. So at first he was like, send me the song, i'm interested to hear it. Then he heard and liked it. For someone on the outside it might be the same but for someone into the hardcore and metal it's like two different camps. There's progressive metal stuff that he does and there's simpler stuff that Comeback Kid does. It came together in a way that we were all happy with it.

I've noticed that you like reading up on tour, on one of your pictures i saw Hepatitis Bathtub, the book by NOFX. Does Comeback Kid have some stories that you could compile in your own book?

The Comeback Kid book, maybe not as crazy as the NOFX book.

When you stop and think about it, some of the travelling experiences that you had are just like, what happened. When we first went to Indonesia, that was kind of weird, we almost didn't make it because we didn't have enough pages in our passport. Then they covered up one of our guitarplayers stamps in his passport which is supposed to be illegal, but they put a visa in there so he could come play. Apparantly there was some money being paid by the promotor to the customs. But we can't understand the language. We got in.

Comeback Kid played a support slot on the Cro Mags shows in Canada a while ago. This was Cro Mags with John Joseph, but there also another Cro Mags with harley fronting it.

I'm not going to comment on that. I'm not going there. They have their feud. I never actually met Harley before, I met John so let's just leave it there.

Next to the new album, what's up in the nearby future for Comeback Kid you'd like to share?

We're going to be taking the rest of the summer off. After that we're going to lay low. I have a one and a half year old son that i want to spend the rest of the summer with. We're going to be moving, right now we live in the country and sort of moving back into Winnipeg, into the city. Just get to know the neighbourhood a little better in the next months, then the record comes out and just tour, tour, tour. I try to spend as much time as i can with my son when i'm home.

Live – AFI August 1st, 2017

AFI returned to San Diego for the fifth time in eight months, playing at the Cal Coast Credit Union Open Air Theatre (what a mouthful that is) and brought Circa Survive and Citizen with them. I’ve seen AFI play many times, and had the luck of seeing Citizen several times on Warped Tour 2015 when I was on the road with one of the tour’s sponsors. On the other hand, I’d never seen Circa Survive before and their performance left me highly unimpressed.



Citizen played a quick eight song, 30-minute set including two tracks from their upcoming release As You Please, as well as selections from Everybody Is Going to Heaven (2015) and Youth (2013). Though the set was enjoyable, the mix was a tad bass heavy and there was nothing to really make their performance stand out on this occasion.


Circa Survive

When it came to the co-headlining performance of Circa Survive, I must say it was disappointing. Though the band played at least one song from each of their six full length releases, including their upcoming album The Amulet, aside from having an hour long set they were essentially another support act. Less than half of the crowd got up out of their seats to stand and sing along, and the band was set up in the same space Citizen had been given, without even having a drum riser for drummer Steve Clifford.



As soon as the beginning of AFI’s intro for the night, “Miseria Cantare”, began, everyone was up and out of their seats. The vibe was entirely different – you could tell that the crowd was much more excited for the true headliner of the night.

I’m a big fan of seeing shows outdoors, yet this was only the second time I’d seen AFI headline an outdoor show. To be honest, though the set was a tad on the short side for AFI (15 songs instead of their standard 17), it was the best sounding mix I’ve heard for them. Hunter Burgan’s bass was powerful, yet not muddy, Adam Carson’s kit and cymbals were punchy but well defined, Davey Havok’s vocals were clear and consistent, and Jade’s guitar sat just right in the mix.

With cuts from their six most recent albums, AFI provided a good variety though the lack of anything from their first four albums was noticeable – many other shows on the tour did have at least one or two songs from the first four records. Additionally, AFI stepped up their production from their winter tour adding more lighting including three large triangle shaped trusses containing various lamps and fixtures.

Highlights of the night included “37mm” being played for the fourth time ever and the first song of the encore, “This Time Imperfect” which is always a fan favorite. Though I may be biased, as AFI is one of my favorite bands, I do think that this is one of the best performances I’ve ever seen them put on.

Overall, this was a great package to see. If you’re near one of the handful of remaining shows on this tour, go check it out!


Photo by Fabio Banin.