These Belgians have a bit of brass, they really do, a saxophone at any rate. This will be your overriding factor when it comes to any enjoyment you will derive from this listening experience too. As we have learned metal and the sax make strange but not unique bedfellows. Obviously, the name John Zorn should be first on the tip of the tongue with projects such as Painkiller leading to collaborations with Napalm Death. Then there’s the likes of the out-there weirdness of everyone from Ihsahn, to Sigh, Ken Mode to Cephalic Carnage and of course those Norwegian loons Shining. Here it is up to Peter Verdonck to unleash his inner Jørgen Munkeby as the quartet from Flanders unleash an aural cacophony of progressive death metal around him. I noted that 3 of the band members provide vocals keeping that a constant mass as well and there are some interesting revolutionary themes to explore with a historical emphasis as we move through the album.
We chop in and it’s a case of off with their heads as the first of these ‘Death By Guillotine’ takes form. I have to admit the opener did not impress at first and although the instant parping of the aforementioned instrument brough a lot of definition the vocal growls are buried in the mix and along with the clattering drums I found it all a bit of a mess. Luckily as things move on these facets become more fully realised and one becomes more used to the weird quirky nature of it all. War, religion and revolution are all peppered in the narrative and titles like ‘War And Slaughter In Your Holy Name’ speak for themselves. This particular song brings a progressive burst to the fore before those growls tar the backdrop and the sax certainly ups the forte of what would be rather generic without it. Unexpected clean and fragrant vocals suddenly intrude and take it to a lighter place. Compared to the growls I would actually like more of these and that is not something I would expect to say but the death vocals are certainly the weakest part of the overall album I’m afraid to say. Despite the somewhat grizzly themes the brass implement does give it all a sense of fun and you will find yourself at times feeling like you have wandered into a small tented stage at a large festival and discovered something really odd and interesting. It’s not quite the German oompah band at Wacken but provides the same sort of impression. At other times an air of ethnicity is discovered very much seducing into depravity as the track title professes and everything goes a little mental including a snatch of goblin grind style vocals thrown in the mix for good measure along with another soaring clean vocal passage. Songs are kept short and compact, the insanity is not drawn out and it does not do your head in (unless you are not a sax aficionado of course) and there are plenty of interesting ideas that could see a splash of piano and other eclectic moods and emotions thrown into songs for good measure.
The oddest version of poetic ode to the fallen ‘In Flanders Fields’ with the rasped-out verse competing with the jazzy up and down the scales sax work is a bit of an ear-opener and unless you took note of the title the origin may well escape you. If you ever wondered what Lisa Simpson joining a death metal band would sound like this might well be your answer and it is likely to have a good crossover appeal that would appeal to those who like the zany side of things drawing in fans of everyone from Mutation to The Cardiacs along the way. As numbers such as ‘Royalty Achieved By War’ infectiously gallop away you can no doubt add the outside the box like Italian madness of Fleshgod Apocalypse to the list. Like them, Wound Collector are certainly doing something a bit different although I have to say the problem here is that without the sax it would be seriously lacking and a stronger main vocal contribution is what is needed here to take this to the next level.
(7/10 Pete Woods)