Label: Breathe Plastic Records
Generally speaking, the best black metal provokes a certain feeling. It doesn’t matter whether it’s bestial, symphonic, discordant, or any other sub-style you care to name – when they hit the sweet spot, they all produce that feeling. You know the one I mean; that sensation that makes you head spin and your heart skip a few beats as the true force of what you’re hearing hits home, searing itself upon you. All of which is to say, this two-track, self-titled release from Woudloper inspires exactly that feeling. This is bewildering, awe-inspiring black metal, bristling with an aura that suggests that it should not exist, full of depth and sinister promise, – and does it ever deliver on that promise.
From the droning, feedback-drenched introductory moments of “I”, it’s clear that Woudloper know how to build atmosphere and its value, and the unsettling introduction is the perfect start. Even when the pace picks up and the song proper starts, there is still a sense of powerful restraint in the guitars as the drums blast away. A raw fuzz cloaks the music and the indecipherable, raw vocals, adding to the other-worldly sense created by some of the guitar movements and melodies that seem somehow wrong, as if they are somehow out of alignment with the real world the rest of us occupy, seeping through from some other place of darkness. But for all that, they feel oh-so right, drawing you in to the song, enticing you to follow where they lead – and when they reach their apex, with the clean melody just before the seven minute mark, it is absolutely sublime in the most unsettling of ways. The nine minute duration flies by as the song shifts through different movements and emphasis, whilst retaining a strong sense of focus. It ends in a slow-burn of feedback and distant guitars, evoking scenes of ruin as strong as a punch to the gut. Needless to say, it’s quite a song.
“II” bursts in with disorienting, technical melodies with a hint of discord about them, and even as the drums hammer away – largely eschewing typical blastbeats for something no less intense, but slightly more technical and interesting – the guitars melodies weave and out in with one another, creating something that is beautifully challenging and unsettling. Yet even whilst there is a lot happening, there is just the right sense of space present to stop the song being completely suffocating. A brief respite arrives roughly two thirds through the song, with the drums dropping out and guitars that are almost gentle playing over feedback, before a doom-esque passage rises out of the murk; the tempo drops to a crawl, and everything has that bit more murk and dirt than it did before. A trio of melodies compete for dominance, somehow complimenting one another as they battle, and as they slowly strip away to a single movement, it is a hugely evocative moment, and a superb ending to the song.
But what is most notable throughout the entire demo is the sense of the other that is present. There is the constant feeling that this is music that has been drawn forth from some other place, spilling over in to our realm either through mistake or malice, tainting all that it touches – and it is such a glorious, glorious taint. Fans of the likes of Ash Borer, Unru, Weakling, and the more full-on moments of later Deathspell Omega should pay attention to this demo, as it is every bit as awe-inspiring, challenging, and addictive as those comparisons suggest. Underground black metal of the highest order.