Review Summary: nasty riffz
I thought I had Wiegedood figured out by now: two guitarists, Levy Seynaeve (formerly from Amenra) and Gilles Demolder (member of Oathbreaker) combine with drummer Wim Coppers (also from Oathbreaker) - no need for bass when you just wanna blast riffs - to offer second wave-esque black metal. All their albums bear the same name and have four tunes with one central title track. Easy, ain't it?
Well, guess it's time for change! No more De Doden Hebben Het Goed Part X
, no more title track!
It's not just about such perfunctory considerations Wiegedood have changed. This is, by far, the band's most violent and focused album to date. Opener "FN SCAR 16" is simply - Megan Thee Stallion voice on - nasty
. Fast, relentless, but, mainly, catchy
despite its excruciating trait. Its catchiness derives not only from its head-bopping nature but also from the track's relative shortness - a little bit more than four minutes, woah is this pop?! In fact, all tracks are the shortest the band has ever recorded, bar album intermediate piece, "Now Will Always Be". Fortunately, having condensed their template does not mean we receive more of lesser material: if anything, this is the one record where the band fully emancipate themselves from the classic black metal pattern made of long mid-tempo tracks evoking a cold atmosphere. This is a path they had already begun to take with the latest Doden
record, but they didn't push this new aesthetic to its limit. They do now: while old traits like the occasional post passage still receive some space within the riff maelström, they no longer constitute the focus of the songs.
Because the focus on There's Always Blood At the End of the Road
is to trample you with harder, better, faster, stronger riffs. Exaggerating just
a bit, the first three songs already have more riffs in their bag than the last three albums. Maybe this impression has to do with the tracks' runtime, each song being compacted to one major vicious riff that plays its abrasive melody just
the right amount of time. Truly, this is a band thrusting into more extreme territories - the opening seconds of "FN SCAR 16" or "Nuages" suffice to showcase this feature - as well as jumping beyond their established formula, ultimately reinforcing their idiosyncrasy. For example, even the non-riffy parts do not try to convey the atmosphere
that was so dear to the band's aesthetic, rather imposing a Lynchesque, industrial foreboding. This approach further exhibits itself on the vocal modus operandi: Seynaeve's shrieks are properly devilish, but he diversifies his technique along the way. "And In Old Salamano’s Room, The Dog Whimpered Softly" - long title innit - as well as "Nuages" present gutturally tortured, hiccuped vocals - dude seems like he's being drowned and choked at the same time. Likewise, "Now Will Always Be" and "Carousel" are the theatre of industrial throat-shredding on top of layered spiralling riffs. In moments like this, the Flemish band titillates the apocalypse, when what you think was the most painful point starts tormenting you even more.
Yet, it's not so much about pain anymore. Lyrically, There's Always Blood At the End of the Road
does not tackle its predecessors' matter - the mourning of one of the band's dear friends, Florent Pevee. While not having a specific lyrical theme, what's striking is that it doesn't dwell in self-commiseration, rather embracing a cathartic orientation - that Seynaeve has successfully transposed from his Amenra years. It's about embracing the ache and conquering it despite the struggle. It's good to be positive! However, if lyrically this tries
to invoke purgative feelings, it's way too violent musically to fully attain its goal - it doesn't allow itself to breathe to make its discourse more potent. Despite this - extraordinarily slight - misstep, Wiegedood have successfully liberated themselves from the stringent conceptual cage of their trilogy, and have already delivered one of the most pissed-the-fuck-off black metal records of the year. Guess I didn't have them figured out.