Has there ever been a genre of metal that has taken on more unique interpretations over the years than black metal? From its inception, and almost by definition, black metal has splintered off onto so many differing paths that only the tracks left behind have been the visuals to identify some of those who left them. Enter the relatively unknown presence of Belgium’s Wiegedood and a suddenly exciting take on a now matured genre.
To say that Wiegedood has studied in the halls of the great second wave of black metal would be an overly simplified explanation, but the truth lies somewhere in there. There may not be any corpse paint, bullet belts, or gantlets in their band photo but rest assured that the pummeling and unrelenting nature of Wiegedood’s sound is enough to make any Norseman proud. On their debut album, De Doden Hebben Het Goed, Wiegedood have seemingly harnessed darkness itself. It’s practically hideous in the best and most sadistic ways possible, yet one that manages to experiment with ambiance enough to make the experience as intriguing as it is grim.
From note one of album opener, “Svanesang” it’s a torrent blast of tremolo picking and blast beats, undercut midway through by a soothing and ultra-mellow respite. But the return to sonic mayhem gives this song the feel of someone standing at the threshold of hell, only to be rescued and then resurrected again where they once stood amidst the fire and brimstone. Sometimes the combination of the macabre and the ethereal are not drawn on such distinct plateaus. On the exceptional title track, for example, it’s the ability of Wiegedood to deliver something equally punishing and alluring that make it so enticing on so many levels. Cryptic guitar lines are undercut by mid-tempo drumming giving the track hazy sort of feeling, akin to someone falling through and into the darkness of deepest space. It may look beautiful on way down but you’re soon engulfed by the knowledge that this is a deadly situation you probably aren’t coming back from.
It would be easy to simply rattle off a short list of second wave black metal acts to compare this band and this album to. But that honestly wouldn’t do either any real justice. While this album certainly takes many cues from all the great masters of bygone decades, Wiegedood are simply not going to allow their brand of music to overtly define them. The mystery held within that album cover – the sticks woven together to reveal some sort of totem, the swaying of the tall grass on a dead winter morning, the brewing storm clouds overhead – have been given the perfect soundtrack, one filled with shadows and perpetual danger. It is, quite frankly, an exhilarating run from start to finish.
De Doden Hebben Het Goed is out now and an be experienced in full at the Wiegedood Bandcamp page.