Date: October 13th, 2023
Four of a kind, in poker terms. Quartet of Dutch black metal bands, under a Dutch label, on a single piece of vinyl. A piece to help you familiarize with their scene. Still, it has to be noted that Duindwaler is the brainchild of the drummer from Hellevaerder and Schavot comes from the hands that drummed their way through Asgrauw. Economizing for sure, only two drumkits were abused in making this split release. Which is to say you’re getting familiar with a somewhat smaller piece of Dutch black metal scene. Joking aside, considering the size of the country and its population, there’s quite a big number of black metal bands operating from there. What’s more, the quality isn’t suffering from numbers.
Now, another important aspect of this vinyl is the theme which it covers. As the info sheet claims, all four bands present their rendition of local tales from history or folklore. A rarity, for sure, to have a sort of a concept on a split release. Not unheard of, but usually on smaller splits, with less bands. Then again, there are two bands here and two one-man bands formed by their members. Moreover, I know Asgrauw is often looking into local myth for inspiration and Schavot stems from the same root, so it was probably not all that difficult convincing Hellevaerder to dabble around the same idea.
That’s pretty much everything I can write about the topics on “Verloren Vertellingen”. Lyrics in Dutch language elude me completely as I cannot speak a word of it. I can translate the titles but without the whole story, it will not help much. Split name translates to “Lost Tales” which neatly wraps the whole thing around.
Before I dive into music, I need to mention the cover artwork done by Chloe the Cartographer. Given the concept of the release, drawing a map of the Netherlands with bands’ logos on banners thrust in, presumably, their own region is a stroke of genius. However simple the idea itself might seem to be. I love it!
Okay, let’s put the needle down. Opening the release is Hellevaerder, a young entity but with substantial discography already under their belt. They are performing music that clearly stems from the second wave, Scandinavian black metal. What they bring to the table are cold melodies, but also a dense, claustrophobic atmosphere accompanied by prevailingly tormented shrieks of Mrs. Miranda Visser. Taking into consideration the theme of “Verloren Vertellingen”, I can only imagine the stories they’re telling. In particular, much more versatile “Als de Nacht Wederkeert” which contains a choir enhancement, as well as a bigger swerving of tempo. It is this build-up exactly that makes me interested in following closer the next steps of Hellevaerder.
Duindwaler is the youngest of the bunch here. This split is only the second release of this one-man band. It is also my least favorite of those presented here. Fast black metal, again of the second wave, though with not a lot of variation throughout which leads into unnecessary repetitiveness that doesn’t help the individual tracks. For instance, the second of the two tracks, “Alles is het Waard”, offers two parts of which the first dwells on an intriguing, deep guitar tone and then the song has an interlude (so to speak) which introduces us to a higher-toned guitar melody lasting until the end. Okay, there’s a bit more than that, but just a bit. The song, as well as its predecessor, needed a bit more development to fully live up to its potential.
Side “B” comprises of the two bands I’m familiar with. I’ve been with them from the very beginning and I’ve been following their growth and progress all the way to this point. So, no surprises from this point forward, right? Wrong! Schavot opens up this side with a song that… Well, I cannot describe it all that simple. “Pieël” is a journey into melodic black metal, built on an epic atmospheric layout. Like early Enslaved, for instance, though occasionally laden with subtle keyboards reminiscent of early Dimmu Borgir. Then it all flows into a completely symphonic black metal (keys, choirs and all) passage only to expand on it with a guitar solo for black metal textbooks. A mesmerizing track and the absolute winner within these forty-two minutes of music. Even the second Schavot track doesn’t reach its majesty, though it keeps with this new step in development of this one-man orchestra.
I’ve written about Asgrauw extensively before. Abaddon Magazine also houses an interview with these black metal flagbearers. Their style of primal, but far from primitive, black metal, enriched with frozen atmospherics and well-thought melodies, keeps its impact on these two new tracks. Again, we can notice a subtle keyboard input (in “Na.chtgra.ver” particularly) which gives further wind to Asgrauw’s wings. The band retains its long-established impact, slowly growing in stature on the expanding Dutch scene.
So, with four bands for the price of one, including some extraordinary examples of black metal creativity, how can you miss this one? Just be quick, since this long player is limited to less than two hundred copies. So far, I haven’t seen announcements of other formats being planned and this limitation should be short for all interested. Releases of much less quality have sold much more.