Review: Hadewych – Welving


Label: Malignant Records

Welving is like little else I have ever heard. The music of Hadewych is impossible to pigeon-hole, refusing to conform to any single genre or style – the only tag that fits is that of avant-garde, in its original, forward-thinking form. Heavy with dark mysticism and creative bravery, Welving constructs an intricate web of industrial, dark jazz, black metal, and more besides – as if Coil, Bohren And Der Club Of Gore, and 666 International-era Dodheimsgard wrote a record together. Welving is one of the most captivating, refreshingly unique records I have encountered in some time; and also one of the most rewarding. This is the kind of record that, if you let it, could take over your life.

Welving is a record that revels in the contradictions it conjures. The music contained within is as grotesque as it is graceful, as sensual as it is repulsive, as welcoming as it is belligerent. Take a track such as ‘Monolith’. Perhaps the most accessible on the album (and I use the term loosely), the song conjures the same kind of darkness as the likes of Skinny Puppy and Coil, combined with a restlessness and sense of desperation that brings to mind the most destructive of industrial black metal. The song refuses to sit still, and its rhythms are constantly shifting in uncomfortable, unexpected ways; and yet there is something to it that is almost danceable.

As contradictory as that may make the album seem, Welving feels like a cohesive record in terms of intent and spirit, even as its sound shifts in unexpected directions. It finds that common thread which links bands as diverse as Einsturzende Neubauten, Gnaw Their Tongues, and your favourite dark jazz act, and pulls those sounds together in ways that should be impossible, but which blatantly are not. At no point does Welving ever feel effortless – it is obvious that a lot of work has gone in to the album’s construction – and yet nor does the music of Hadewych ever feel forced. Instead, it is as if the band are channeling in to some elemental force that is just beyond normal vision and reach, wrestling with the spirit of someone that does not wish to be contained, and mastering it through these rituals of sound and emotion.

All of this may suggest an album which takes a dozen listens to begin to understand; and yet nothing could be further from the truth. There is something unexpectedly accessible about Welving; most likely down to how consistent it is in terms of spirit and mood. It is a record that can easily pull the listener in to its headspace, cocooning them in its dark mysticism and sense of adventure. This is all the more impressive considering that it sits within no single genre, and is unafraid to have its songs twist and turn in unexpected, uncomfortable ways.

Though it is early days, Welving feels like one of the best records that will be released this year – it’s certainly one of the most adventurous and creatively daring. It is a work of superlative creativity, never feeling as if it has taken the easy option at any point, but instead being dedicated to pushing boundaries. Though it brings to mind a host of other acts, I can think of no single band or album that it sounds like. Welving truly is an exceptional work, and deserves to be recognised as such.

Welving is available on CD via Malignant Records, can be downloaded from Bandcamp, and can be streamed on Spotify.



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