Belgium is one of those places whose black metal scene is always worth keeping an eye on for some unexpected gems. In the early days they had some pretty solid output from the fathers of their scene Enthroned and Ancient Rites, paving the way for a new wave of bands such as Saille and Wiegedood today. One that you may have missed and we have indeed not heard anything from them since 2012 album Morinde are Alkerdeel and this is something worth rectifying straight away. From the attention grabbing humorous and unconventionally coloured artwork this is a band well worth checking out and new album Lede proves every bit as enticing as the devilish image of a bent over devil farting at you suggests.
It’s not a case of textbook orthodox black metal here by any means and that should come as no surprise considering the band are comprised of past and present members of Headmeat, Leng Tch’e, Serpentcult and Thee Plague Of Gentlemen. Don’t let that put you off or go dismissing it though, violence is delivered in spades. Starting with a whopping 3 part track ‘Regardez ses yeux’ (Look Into His Eyes) a fast flailing riff starts up and everything wallops in behind it on the wings of a fetid death belch. This has an incessant swarm of locusts sort of effect from the wind-milling guitar work and it doesn’t really let up as it consumes everything in its path. Bass tones are nice and thick coming through powerfully in the mix, no biscuit tin BM here, and vocals howl and snarl with beastly ferocity. Put very simply this is the sort of thing that early Altar Of Plagues and Deathspell Omega fans should lap up. Hell it might even give devotees of Flemish gods Lugubrum something to get their teeth into. After throwing us through a vortex and drenching in doomy feedback towards the end, the second part of the track serves as an interlude of throbbing tones and ghostly voice talking in French. I have no idea what it is saying having just about managed to translate the track title but it’s certainly sinister and foreboding. Naturally the conclusion is violent in the extreme with a punching fury from the clattering snares and hellish vocal roars as the guitar and bass grinds relentlessly over it all chopping away like its intent on making human coleslaw. Suddenly it gets into a solid mid-paced swaggering groove adding so putrid sounding punk into things before tearing off again. It’s like the sound of the apocalypse hitting and the destructive nature of this is excellent.
The second half of the album starts with the title track and it’s just as abrasive adding a real crust to the layers that had been hinted at before as everything is literally Discharged into a furious choppy bass hefty quaking tumult. There’s some classic Anarcho punk sounding grooves flung out here and it makes me want to witness this live as it struts and causes all sorts of pit mayhem. A quick search shows that they have played in Hellgium itself along with the aforementioned Lugubrum and Urfaust, I bet that was a gig and a half. The 14 minute Gråt Deleenaf (and no idea what that means) is the epic concluding piece. It broods in threatening the approaching storm drawing you in and keeping you on tenterhooks before the drums finally rattle in and it gradually builds seeping atmosphere from every pore and unleashing tortured vocal screams and a smothering doomy claustrophobia. It’s a surprising lesson in constraint for both band and listener as it takes never quite explodes until the ten minute mark but goes for the throat in a much more subtle but no less deadly fashion.
Lede may be ultimately unconventional in approach which makes the impact of it all the more interesting. Excellently played and mixing a wealth of ideas this should get Alkerdeel a bit more attention within the underground. I’m glad I didn’t blow it off as the foul stench proved totally satisfying.
(8/10 Pete Woods)