Two years ago, I had the opportunity to pen the review for Wiegedood‘s De Doden Hebben Het Goed debut. It had all the right elements of Oathbreaker (a band who it shares members with), but it lacked the same levels of emotion. Therefore, it didn’t hit me as hard is it did other people. But, the fact that it’s not Oathbreaker is one of the reasons I liked it as much as I did. Who likes a copycat, anyway? Just the same, it’s a good album and I’ve returned to it often. And now these Ra-ers are back with the sequel to their 2015 debut De Doden Hebben Het Goed. A sequel that shares many similarities to the debut—including a four-track, 30-minute runtime—while bringing a new energy and flavor to the mix.
Wiegedood‘s debut may not be as pretentious as a band like Deafheaven (hallelujah!), but it’s thick with atmosphere and post-black attitude. The sequel hints at this heavy atmosphere, but De Doden Hebben Het Goed II never lets it meander for long. II, instead, unleashes a brutality fitting to a second-wave Norwegian outfit like Gorgoroth. The amount of hate and emotion set forth from II is enough to burn a hole right through your black heart. And it’s complimented by seamless fluidity. The seamlessness from beginning to end makes the record feel like one continuous song, with transitions appearing in the most unlikely of places. This keeps the disc from feeling long and it has the listener on their tippy toes. The transitions from one song to the next are so novel that Wiegedood are sure to come to mind if I ever hear anything like it again in the black metal world.
The first of these track changes occurs between opener “Ontzielling” and follow-up track, “Cataract.” The opener comes charging out of the gates with the same relentless assault and atmosphere as the debut’s “Svanesang.” And, after brewing up a storm for seven minutes, the song stops as sudden as a Michelin tire would claim to do. All that emotion and passion present on De Doden Hebben Het Goed is found within the next few minutes. A few seconds along this moody road and we find ourselves smack dab in “Cataract.” This song takes the closing moments of “Ontzielling” and rides them out for five minutes before building to the track’s climax. Once the climax is reached, the riffs heighten and the 1349-like pummeling ensues. But, of all the builds and riffs that saturate “Cataract,” the riff near the end is the best. Like any great song, there is great anticipation throughout. But it’s these final moments of the track that make it all worth it.
As “Cataract” fades, another song change occurs. The title piece takes the baton from “Cataract” and begins its own unique trot around the gravel track. Levy Seynaeve’s screams set the mood before this building beauty begins a mid-paced march up the steps of Hell. The resulting charge is one best categorized by the likes of Gorgoroth and Celtic Frost. It’s deliberate and hollow, using deep horn effects to emphasize every downbeat. After the chest-throbbing pulse subsides, we are left with distorted static. But, when the static comes into tune, we find ourselves traversing the waves of the most aggressive piece on the album. Closer “Smeekbede” doesn’t so much charge out of the gate as drag the gate down with it. This concise six-minute number is the least forgiving of the album. It’s designed for those with hate in their hearts and it doesn’t let up until the blood-curdling screams found in the opening minutes of the record return once more to close it.
In the end, there are few complaints from me. The production is equal to its predecessor, but it doesn’t stifle the music. One thing should be clear, though. While I like this newest Wiegedood outing the best, it doesn’t blow its predecessor out of the water. Instead, its increased levels of hate and its exceptional skills at fluidity compliment the debut album. Individually, they are but simple pamphlets on the ways of Wiegedoodian black metal. Together, they are chapters of a novel. What Chapter III has in store in for us; I have no idea. But, it’s clear there is a story to tell and Wiegedood is doing it.