Deep in the sandy soil of the Flemish lowlands lie the roots of an enigmatic art collective called the Church of Ra. This organisation always seems to elude the feeble grasp of one’s cognition and even here in Flandres they are obscured by the dark shroud of the unattainable. All that is present, is the aura of a mythology that is at the same time new and old, and the use of imagery that draws strength from religious symbols and which thus allure the human psyche into wanting to be a part of this group. The Church was established in 2005 by the members of Belgian post-metal band Amenra, but the group now consists of a sizeable number of musicians who intermingle in a multitude of bands, each of which is in its own right at the top of their genre. One of these bands is Wiegedood, a vicious three-piece consisting of members who also play in Oathbreaker, Hessian, and Amenra, but who have now come together to produce a fire-tempered brand of black metal.
RELEASE DATE: 10 February 2017 LABEL: Consouling Sounds
Whether they are playing live or whether you listen to either of their records, Wiegedood have an aura that forcefully inspires awe and devotion. There is no doubt that the enigmatic strength of the overarching Church is leaking through in Wiegedood’s work, but from the first note they’re playing it is obvious that these are not merely missionaries repeating the same old piece of doctrine from an ancient book. No. These three men bring a tale that is alive, maybe too alive for the listener’s own good. Wiegedood play with a fierceness that resembles thrash metal bands at the height of their prowess. They shine during the fast-paced album-opener Ontzieling and closing track Smeekbede, but even during the lengthy, mid-tempo sections of Cataract and De Doden Hebben Het Goed II, the band sound tense and feverish.
Most of what happens on De Doden Hebben Het Goed II could be classified under traditional black metal, but upon closer inspection we find a lot of gripping details. Smeekbede is the most “progressive” song on De Doden Hebben Het Goed II with its remarkable rhythm changes, but the most impressive feat that Wiegedood bring to the table is their intricate use of texture. On top of the scorching combination of dual guitars and drums, an unexpected combination of production and musicianship alienates the instruments from their original context and elevates them to a new level of use. All of this happens on a very sophisticated scale, which is demonstrated by a moment in Ontzieling where the first movement of the song is concluded by an earthy pummel that sounds like a ferocious bass guitar—even though the band does not have a bass player—but then breaks out into the biting tones of an electric guitar heralding the next blistering part of the song.
Another exceptional moment are the backing vocals on the title track. The rhythmic pounding of unintelligible words takes on the guise of a trombone in a marching band, which make Wiegedood sound both frightening and strangely invigorating at the same time. With De Doden Hebben Het Goed II, Wiegedood speak (yet again) to the primal instincts of the human psyche, exhibiting a ferocious and war-like atmosphere.
Talking about vocals, singer Levy Seynaeve is definitely on top of his game here. He is always right behind the music, and sometimes he even takes the lead, for example in closing off the record. He ends Smeekbede on his own with a stretched–out, singular howl that makes your throat hurt in vicarious suffering.
However, the most impressive characteristic of De Doden Hebben Het Goed II you will find at the beginning of the record. It feels as if already in the first notes of Ontzieling the whole vigour of the record is captured, and it sets your mind to thinking in the direction that the band want to take you. And this is truly, the most frightening aspect of this album. Regardless of whether you are in the mood for listening to black metal, once you press play, you don’t want to go back, and you’re forcefully engaged for the next half hour. De Doden Hebben Het Goed II is a visceral experience that is tough to forget, an experience that show Wiegedood to be at the top of the genre and that is sure to blow many seasoned black metal acts out of the water.