The New Wave of Dutch Black Metal was coined by Never Mind The Hype and I was amazed by the sudden realization that we have so many good bands in the Netherlands.
This is my attempt to give you an overview of the amount of stunning bands that the Netherlands has to offer, but there is more in part 1. I have to say though, the more I’m looking into it, the more I seem to find!
Black metal fury with Cirith Gorgor, Tarnkappe and Turia
Some bands stick to the fierce sound that characterizes the original outlets of black metal. Almost unrecognizably mutated from the Venom-roots, the sound is furious, overwhelming and battle-ready. These bands to my experience hold the fort, while adding distinct own aspects to it.
On their last album, ‘Visions of Exalted Lucifer’, the band Cirith Gorgor pretty much showed that they are one of the most esteemed black metal bands from the Netherlands, producing a sound very close in praise of the traditinol, thunderous black metal from the nineties. Their latest offering is an EP titled ‘Bi Den Dode Hant’, a reference to the infamous ‘Bokkenrijders’ from my parts of the world in the older days. Their four track EP has two absolute gems on it, but also one of the songs from the previous album. Bummer, because I knew it already. On ‘The Luciferian Principle’ we actually get a bit of a weird atmospheric outro, which is pretty cool. It’s the title track though that completely takes the cake here, a blistering surge of hatred. A continuous abyssal assault, lead by singer Sathanael and the vicious guitar assault.
Tarnkappe was featured earlier on my blog, but this band really fits in that traditional black metal framework. Maybe a bit towards the natura-inspired sound, but the artwork and vibe is staying close to the core. The band name means something akin to ‘Wizard’s hat’ in the old tongue of these lands. Looking at the cover and the landscape depicted there, you might easily link this band to a Burzum, but their sound is much less hazy and dreamy, filled with repetition and firm waves of guitar sounds. The vocals really speak to the listener in my opinion.
When it comes to unleashing minimalist fury, the band Turia needs to be mentioned here. I’ve seen them play at Roadburn as a three piece act and there is just something completely desparate about their flow of misery that takes you to the vast desolation that only black metal can evoke. Their album ‘Dede Konde’ is a steady swirl into darkness and well worth listening to. Every sound on this record is measured, directed and controlled to evoke the maximum of feelings from the listener.
Outsider music with Iskandr, Kjeld, Folteraar and Fluisteraars
Black metal is an expression of the individual, of that which makes us distinct from others. These groups clearly have found a way to give shape to their own identity and place in the world, wether it is with language or other elements.
There are some bands that I find hard to place, though everything above is done on an overall feeling and emotion it evokes with me as a listener. A band I find harder to really put somewhere, but would not want to set apart is Iskandr, which hails from the Nijmegen area like Turia. Iskandr feels much more atmospheric, almost filmic in the tragic, impressive melodies the band uses on their album ‘Heilig Land’. Iskandr is also a one man band, with just O making the music, which is something you can sort of hear in the focussed stream of energy in the music. O also plays in Turia, Lubbert Das and Galg, some pretty great bands. The sound is so immensely tragic and harrowing, I love it.
The Netherlands has a second language, which you may or may not know, namely Frisian. One of the best bands to come out of the wood work in recent years happens to sing in that language and that band is Kjeld, who truly hit a high note on their album ‘Skym’ from back in 2015. The production of this band sounds a bit cleaner and more focussed, but remains firmly rooted in the Northern tradition. The musicianship is one of the claims to fame from this group of four with much experience in other ensembles (like Asregen, Krocht, Kaeck, Gheestenland and many more). Though the band has been in existence since 2003, the last few years saw them at their most productive, releasing a split with Wederganger recently.
Folteraar is another gritty project of excellent noisy, fierce black metal. It seems that this duo leans towards a bit of an industrial approach to the musical expression. With a thick layer of distortion and a gritty sound with low paced rhythms and grim barks this is some intense stuff. It seems there’s even a mild death metal influence to create the severely intense sound this duo produces. Originally the releases came out on an own label of bandmember K., namely ‘The Throat’, but now Iron Bonehead has picked up on this excellent band.
Folteraar is not for the fans of catchy melodic or atmospheric black metal, their sound is harsh, repetitive and ugly. The delivery is excellent though, offering a rather different take on the genre.
From there on, we move to Fluisteraars, who’ve done a magnificent job on their EP ‘Gelderland’ to create black metal that sometimes almost feels like indie rock. That’s how streamlined the riffs are, with a strange, playful melody in there. I wouldn’t go so far as calling them a gentle sounding band, but the strength of Fluisteraars is the use of melody and catchy hooks, while remaining loyal to the grim and black sounds. The 7″ is out on Eisenwald Tonschmiede in Germany, a label that knows how to deal with the narrative, gripping sound of bands like Agalloch. Fluisteraars fits in there somehow, though they can also unleash hell if they need to.
Into the underworld with Lubbert Das and Wederganger
Two more names that have a sound that is particularly haunting to round up this second installment, two names that are definitely worth checking out.
Lubbert Das is an odd reference to the work of Jheronymous Bosch, in which we find a painting, titled “Cutting the stone’. A text surrounds the painting in golden letters, saying: “Master cut away the stone, my name is Lubbert Das”. So, there the band found their name and a logo. The sound of these guys is really a lot of doom and gloom, with long, repetitive passages. The cavernous sounding guitarplay and drums really makes you feel that the sound is all submerged, under the earth’s crust where madness reigns. Tumultuous and unrelenting, this is some bad ass black metal.
Born out of some of the best bands in the more Folky corner that the Netherlands have on offer, namely Mondvolland, Heidevolk and more, Wederganger is one hell of an outfit. They combine theatrical swagger with dark, gloomy black metal. Clean vocals and ghoulish barks and howls work in concert to create a special eerie atmosphere. Wederganger translates as ‘one who walks again’, and their debut album is titled ‘Halfvergaan ontwaakt’ (‘Half decayed, awakened). After the succesful release of that album and numerous really cool live shows, the band has unleashed splits with Laster, Kjeld and Urfaust. This group definitely is part of the elite of the dutch black metal scene witgh a well thought out act.