Some years ago a lively Belgian band Iconoclasm played at the Infernal Damnation Fest in London. Their brand of black metal was so intense and noxious that their sound managed to drown out the fire alarm. Someone alerted us to the alarm and saved us from an infernal death (actually it was a false alarm, but let’s not get confused by facts here). Here in Wiegedood is another bunch of Belgians who ostensibly are releasing their debut album but the technique and intensity both belie this fact and remind me of that earlier experience.
The point about this black metal album is that it’s not just unmitigated fury, nor does it just dredge ghastliness from a toxic pit. In its measured and violent way, it falls cleverly between the two. “Svanesang”, which opens the album, speaks. Full of impact, it is fast and furious, then scales down into eerie minimalism. I waited for the explosion. Eventually the volcano erupted and the fire was rekindled before its lofty and majestic final passage. The intensity and battering rhythm of “Kwaad Bloed” (Evil Blood) then rumbles under the floor, around the walls and through your head. In his measured way, the vocalist growls in intense fury. There’s something mechanical as sparks fly. Wiegedood package their ideas well. “De Doden Hebben het Goed” (The Dead Are The Good) never stands still, as they lead us off into exhilarating passages. It’s dark and dirty but on the musical coalface it’s delivered with precision. A prolonged scream is the signal to be dragged into a watery hole. The scream becomes distant as the acoustic guitarist takes over and patiently peddles his wares. The mood changes as the title track presents a darker and more menacing face. It’s like treading a path to war. It’s menacing and desultory but doesn’t really progress. The menace continues on “Onder Gaan” (Going Under) but now the juices are flowing, and it’s powerful and dominant. The drum is incessant and the metal flows. This is an epic track. It feels as if it is slowly descending into nothing. The guitar is distorted. Then there’s a big scream. It’s predictable but well done. The scene is monstrous. There’s plenty of atmosphere here. It’s brought on by the power and darkness of the music which has a kind of post metal ring. A fiery glaze runs across “Onder Gaan”. Spoken words can faintly be heard. The music stops and now the words can be heard. An echoing female voice utters words in an Eastern European language, bringing this inventive album to a chilling end.
“De Doden Hebben het Goed” could be described simply as four hefty chunks of blazing black metal, but it is more than that that. Wiegedood add creative layers into the fire which make it so much more atmospheric and interesting.
(8/10 Andrew Doherty)