Label: Consouling Sounds
It doesn’t feel like it was long since the first album from Wiegedood was released, with the Church Of Ra affiliated band unleashing a masterclass in modern black metal that rightly saw them lavished with praise. In the almost two years since the release of De Doden Hebben Het Goeg, the band have been touring and generally building upon the buzz surrounding them, meaning that expectations are high for the follow-up. Now that it’s here, does De Doden Hebben Het Goeg II meet them? The answer is: absolutely. It takes all that was good about the debut and doubles down on it, resulting in an album that is intense, captivating, and sure to be recognised as one of 2017’s finest.
As with the debut, De Doden Hebben Het Goeg II consists of four reasonably lengthy tracks of maelstrom black metal, full of soul-searing majesty and violence. Even as the guitars lash at the core of your being, it is impossible to deny the grace and grandeur they possess – as violent as this record is, there is a real sense of beauty to it, in that seemingly contradictory manner of all the best black metal. The melodies laced through the closing movements of opener ‘Ontzielling’ are a perfect example, as unsettling as they are entrancing.
There is a temptation here to describe the sound of De Doden Hebben Het Goeg II as atmospheric, yet in the modern black metal lexicon, that might be misleading. For sure, it is an album steeped in atmosphere, that pulls you in to its aura and refuses to let go. Yet it is far more dangerous and unnerving than that term usually implies – for sure, there are traces of the DNA of bands like Drudkh here, but the likes of Weakling are an equally valid point of reference. And whilst there is a sense of nature and the wilderness here, it is that of a hostile, primordial force, with an intelligence and perception removed from our own.
Even when the band ease off, such as during the opening minutes of second track ‘Cataract’, there is no respite to be found. The slower sections build tension and anxiety in a most masterful way, giving rise to catharsis that is almost physical once the band move back in to faster, more physically punishing territories. Yet no matter what speed or with what emphasis Wiegedood play, the atmosphere and spirit of the album is consistent, making this an album that is all too easy to lose one’s self in for hours at a time.
Compared with the debut, De Doden Hebben Het Goeg II is a more concise, direct record. Some elements from the debut have been stripped away, to better emphasize the lean, strong musculature underneath, with one track flowing in to another smoothly, but there are still connections with the first album. Like with that record, this has the feel of something hugely personal, and of being a very challenging album to make. It is certainly challenging to listen to at points – not because the music is intentionally awkward or complicated, willfully obscuring its melodies and structures like some avant-garde performance piece. Instead, it is a difficult listen because it is so unflinching in the face of the void and malevolence it conjures, and feels as if it is asking hard, deeply important questions of the listener. As such, it fits in perfectly with the general ethos and nature of fellow Church Of Ra bands, whatever their sound. There will be those who wither under its gaze; but those who can stand tall in the face of its soul-searching, uncompromising nature will be well rewarded. This proves that the debut was no fluke; in Wiegedood, we are witnessing one of modern black metal’s best bands staking their claim, and making their presence impossible to ignore.
De Doden Hebben Het Goeg II is available from Consouling Sounds on CD and can be pre-ordered on vinyl (solid green and translucent green, 500 copies of each being pressed). It can also be streamed and downloaded via Bandcamp.