Aerdryk – Met De Drietand Op Mijn Huid Review

The mighty founder of this blog once famously said, “Atmoblack is just 2 riffs drawn out over 60 minutes with some reverb and synths.” Those of us who are fans pushed back, at the risk of a considerable tongue-lashing. “But it’s about the atmosphere, see? Riffs are not the be-all and end-all. Mother nature is a vibe not a riff.” The matter was never resolved, but after the bruising back-and-forth, both sides retreated to lick their wounds. It was with this in mind that I approached the debut album from Dutch band Aerdryk, Met De Drietand Op Mijn Huid (With the Trident on My Skin). Promising a “journey into time and history itself,” this sounded like something right up my alley. Would this be the effort to tilt the scales toward Team Atmoblack?

Met De Drietand Op Mijn Huid sounds like the consanguineous offspring between two unremarkable atmoblack bands whose names you have forgotten. The style is milquetoast atmoblack with the drums buried way back and the reverb turned up. Wretched, but fairly monotonous vocals and synths straight outta From the Nightside Eclipse complete the aesthetic. If this sounds somewhat… familiar, that’s because it is. Aerdryk are not offering any compelling new takes on their chosen genre, which means the songs need to be hard as oak. In this respect, the album falters because Met De Drietand Op Mijn Huid is neither evil enough to please the old-school, second-wave crowd, nor atmospheric and interesting enough to please the nature folk who enjoy snowy walks under big trees.

It pains me to say this (because AMG Himself being right hurts) but the lack of riffs is the real problem with Aerdryk’s debut. Or should I say, the lack of memorability? If you’re going to forego said riffs (and Aerdryk forego riffs like a snail forgoes salt), then atmosphere is king, with little room for error. Unfortunately, Met De Drietand Op Mijn Huid fails at building anything that gets under the skin. This can be attributed to two factors. First, the uniformity in the songwriting, which is pedestrian in the way that songs are too long and contain too much repetition of passages bereft of anything resembling a hook. The song structures themselves jump between furious and blast-y, and slow and post-metal-y, with all the unpredictability of a step-sibling porn scene. Which is to say: it’s hard to be immersed when you’re bored. Second, the production itself is so drenched in reverb, and buries the drums so far back in the mix, that listening to the album is like watching said porn scene through vaseline-smeared glasses: everything blurs into everything else until all it becomes an incoherent and confusing jumble.

Bright sparks flicker here and there. If you turn it up loud enough, you can make out some good ideas in the murk. Aerdyck are at their strongest when they cut loose and really attack the material. “Met de Drietand op Mijn Huid” is the best example of this: the fury manages to break through the pedestrian mix and lends urgency and momentum to the track. The riff is no earworm but there is something to hang your spiky hat on. The album, at just over 40 minutes, wastes no time nor has pointless interludes. Most importantly, nothing here is terrible. It’s just deeply, profoundly, unmemorable.

Sadly, there is little in Met De Drietand Op Mijn Huid to recommend to all but the most forgiving of atmoblack listeners. It’s boilerplate stuff, rendered even more impotent by the curious production choices and uninspired material. Atmoblack can be vital and transformative (see the most recent Grima as a great example), but it can also be lazy and uninspired, which is the zone Aerdryck find themselves slap-bang in the middle of. They will need to rethink their entire approach if their next effort is to register anything other than a cursory blip on the metal radar. In the meantime, sadly, it’s AMG 1, Team Atmoblack 0.

Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Amor Fati Productions
Website: Too kvlt for the internet
Releases Worldwide: August 15th, 2022

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