One for the specialist here: the lyrics of this EP from a very old Belgian black metal band Āter are written in a thousand-year old dialect. When I received this work, it came with a lucid explanation of the tracks, which I hope goes to anyone interested enough to buy this. In short, the songs are about suffering and dignity, while “Voorvaderen” (Ancestors) is about the tension between Flemish- and French speaking Belgians, which may sound trivial but has been a long-standing issue.

“D’Oere” wastes no time in getting down to dirty, grey old black metal. Nothing new, I suppose, but it’s intense and has a bit of melody to go with the relentless contempt. “Strontroaper van Abjele” has a melancholic epic quality running through its fiery veins. It’s easy to get sucked in. Then comes the aforementioned “Voorvaderen”. Like black metal in general, it’s hard to figure out what it’s all about apart from something nasty. This track is more war-like and confrontational than the others. The drummer strikes out. The vocalists rasps and growls and suffers. The song is filled with urgency and intensity. At 5 minutes “Valkennacht” dwarfs the other tracks in length. It has the usual dirty intensity, but most striking is a war signal in the middle, accompanied by pagan-style moaning. The riff goes on like a sword hanging over us, and the song returns to a state of burning intensity. Strangely for such a short EP, there’s a bonus track “Diatomacious Ooze”. It’s different from the others, as it has an element of symphony in the air, the sound is deliberately obscured to make it as ghoulish as possible, and the structure is unconventional as Āter play with sound. It’s kind of like a mix of Polish symphonic blackened death metal and Peter Tägtgren’s Pain, with a large dosage of experimentation of sound to send you insane. I’m not normally a fan of bonus tracks but this strange beast was for me the highlight of this enjoyable short work.

Not much to go on, but it’s proper old school black metal with plenty of dirt to clean off afterwards. I liked “Vullighied”.

(8/10 Andrew Doherty)