Label: Consouling Sounds
This is not an album to go in to unprepared. With De Doden Hebben Het Goeg, Wiegedood have produced the kind of album that demands full attention, as it takes the listener on a journey that is undeniably intense, but equally rewarding. Musically bringing to mind the likes of Drudkh, Wolves In The Throne Room, as well as the likes of Celestia, the atmosphere conjured is one of contemplation and nature, of looking inwards for answers. As such, the Church Of Ra affiliates have created an album that does not just hit hard musically, but is quite an emotional and spiritually cathartic experience too. There’s no denying that expectations were high for this album, but they have certainly been met.
It would be easy to say that this is no surprise, given the pedigree of those involved – members of Oathbreaker, Rise And Fall, Amenra, and Hessian form Wiegedood – but that would underplay what they have achieved with De Doden Hebben Het Goeg. Opener “Svanesang” is a mini-epic in its own right, moving through several distinct structures throughout its thirteen minute duration, keeping a tight hold on the listener throughout as they lead you on. There are furious blasts and guitars aplenty, topped off with shrieked vocals, before an interlude provides some musical respite whilst still maintaining the atmosphere and aura of the song. A real sense of grandeur and wonder is present throughout, comparable to what the best Cascadian and Eastern European black metal bands have conjured, and the following tracks maintain this feeling. “Kwaad Bloed” is more streamlined in its assault, lasting just over seven minutes, featuring furious double-bass drums and superb guitar leads that reach for the stars. And when the slower mid-section hits, it’s an undeniably moving moment, topped off with tremolo-picked guitars that say more than lyrics ever could. The song slowly fades away in its closing moments, guitars and shouts replaced by ominous drones and static, and it’s hard not to view it as a metaphor for loss, of the natural world edging its way to ruin.
The title track takes a slower approach, moving forward in a mournful manner that is no less heavy and intense than what has preceded it. It has a trance-like quality, captivating the listener and holding them in Wiegedood’s spell. Finally. closer “Onder Gaan” may last for eleven and a half minutes, but as with the opening track the long duration never feels bloated or excessive – rather, the song is long because it needs to be long, to give it time to properly shift through each movement, of which there are plenty. And as they are on earlier tracks, they are handled with skill, each one feeling natural and flowing, whether they are obvious or more subtle. One of the best examples of this is when the song moves in to its final third, with a piano melody and drone rising up in the mix to slowly replace the guitars and drums; and then, suddenly, the band burst back in. It’s abrupt, but it’s not jarring, and feels entirely right. And as the song reaches its conclusion, there is the undeniable feeling that De Doden Hebben Het Goed is a beginning – that it is a starting point for self-discovery, for asking uncomfortable questions and finding uncomfortable truths.
Of course, it’s possible that I’m misinterpreting this, but De Doden Hebben Het Goed has the feel of an album that is inherently personal – the kind of music that is not meant to offer easy answers, where the distance between intent and meaning comes down to perception. And this, it should go without saying, it a plus. Black metal should not be easy. It should not be background music. It should be challenging, engaging, and tap in to that sense that we are all part of something bigger than ourselves. And as such, it is hard to find fault with De Doden Hebben Het Goed. This has all the hallmarks of being a future classic, and should not be missed.