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The dead are fine - 97%

TheFaceofEddie, August 30th, 2017
Written based on this version: 2017, CD, ConSouling Sounds (Digisleeve)

Hailing from Ghent, Belgium, Wiegedood exists in the exciting realm of post-black metal. Too riff heavy for atmospheric black metal and too atmospheric (and well produced) for trve black metal the post-black genre is in fine hands with these Belgians in the fold. Translated from Dutch wiegedood is literally “death in the cradle” and de doden hebben het goed is “the dead are fine.” After hearing De doden hebben het goed II (henceforth De doden II), I can confirm the dead (including those from the cradle) are most definitely fine.

Picking up where 2015’s De doden hebben het goed left off De doden II explodes into existence with Ontzielling. Holding nothing back, it hammers forward with big, solid riffs and rattling drums as the screams slowly fade in and echo across the speakers. Ontzielling is in constant flux, no single riffs gets ridden for everything its worth, as the track continuously searches for a more perfect expression, a better pattern. Finally, after nearly 8-minutes of aural destruction, a reprieve is found as the Ontzielling merges into Cataract. The drums deliver a final pound and the guitars take centre stage with light touches and a slight reverb. Without any build up Cataract returns to a massive atmosphere and time loses meaning as the drums weave a simple but mesmerizing beat and the single line of trems never becomes monotonous. The drums and trems release you from timelessness and lay you gently into the middle of the track, in the distance church bells, slightly off in their sound, as if pitch shifted, provide a lull. Suddenly vocals smash through the thin veil of serenity and drag you back into the tortured hell. Skittering about in high notes a single guitar escapes to crawl about your brain, scratching and clawing into the centre of your mind. Undulating synths take over and the transition to the titular track is marked by distant agonizing vocals. A catchy marching beat rears forth from the synth layer and carries through the entirety of the track. Wafts of pure evil roll from the speakers as a choir conjurers beneath the waves of trems. Just as the album opened it ends, with Smeekbede exploding from the closing feedback of the titular track. The riffs are nearly drum like in their heaviness before transitioning into scathing trem runs which snap up and down your spine like electricity from a broken powerline. Distant screams and pleas for help exist just below the music before the vocals break through. The music comes to an abrupt close but the vocals continue gurgling away for an uncomfortable amount of time before cutting out like the neck containing the brutalized vocal chords had been snapped.

Post-black metal at its finest De doden II was too short and left me craving more. Wiegedood have perfected their art, although I hope they push further, and firmly planted themselves alongside the juggernauts of the genre like Deafheaven and Harakiri for the Sky with De doden II1.

- originally written for Two Posers & A False

What is new is old again - 90%

iamntbatman, June 6th, 2017

It can be really difficult for me to get past really stupid things that put me off from listening to things that could very well be fantastic. I avoided listening to Weigedoood for years because their name made me think "wedgie, dude" like some sort of mashup of The Dude himself and Bart Simpson that just put this big dumb block in the way of being able to take a band like this seriously. And clearly, this is serious stuff. Eventually, mental block removed, and music appreciated.

Before you even turn this on (or the previous album, which this is a sequel to), there are clues as to what it sounds like. Two of the three guys are the rhythm section for blackened neocrust band Oathbreaker, though Gilles Demolder sticks to guitar in this bassless outfit. Second, the band's symmetrical logo is very reminiscent of that of their American contemporaries in Young and In the Way, the lashed together sticks photographed in some sad Belgian marsh indicating that this is most assuredly a more nature-oriented approach than the bleak suburban-industrialisms of YAITW or other similar artists. So, musically, it's not really a surprise that this winds up in a similar ballpark to Ayr, a YAITW-related black metal project that ejects the urban crustiness in favor of a more depressive, pretty, romantic blackened sound. Being European, though, this is a few steps less minimalist than Ayr, adorning the trebly shimmers of tremolo ice-sheets with more overt lead melodies and vague, distant hints of things like Taake or Gorgoroth.

That sort of Norwegian influence isn't one-note, either; it's present both in the "let's wring as much despair out of a couple of lonely chords as possible" parts as well as the scalding acid vocals and blastbeat scaffolding around the scorched-earth violence of the most aggressive riffs. Whether the guitars are playing in one mode or the other, they have this tendency to kind of sound like a droning army of horns or pipes playing a mesmerizing cacophony that is forced into coherence by simple effort of massing them together so densely and folding the layers over one another to immeasurability through the echoes of whatever grand cave or sepulchre these sounds originate from. Even with this gargantuan and ubiquitous thrumming, higher notes slice and swirl underneath, forming melodies out of the ephemeral bits of guitar that stab like points of light through the billowing black wall of sound.

Letting that blackness engulf you, while constantly searching out those stabs of light, gives this album a distinctly ritualistic feel, not wholly unlike that I get from Urfaust (in fact, the vaguely carnival-esque pounding of the title track does have a definite Urfaustian vibe to it, even if the clean vocals here are deep Germanic massed choirs rather than wailing houseghosts) though the volume and intensity of the guitars, and the unshakable aggression present throughout much of the record brings that ritual about in a much different way. I might even say it's of a kind with their Dutch neighbors in Fluisteraars, another band that blends distinctly Norwegian elements from deep within the genre's traditions with over two decades of continental reworkings, refinements, pushes toward minimalism and incorporation of outside elements. Such experiments are, as we're all aware, far from always success stories, so a band so obviously working such tried and true approaches from black metal's greats into a more modern context shows me that not only is this a band that understands what works in black metal and what doesn't, but gives my ears the opportunity to hear how great such an approach can sound.

So, whether it's another short burst in the form of De doden hebben het goed III, or a longer and more varied follow-up (I can definitely see these guys doing something really good around a one-hour mark), consider my wedgie dude aversion fully obliterated.