Alkerdeel – Slonk Review

As you’re reading this, I’m sure you’re thinking, “Alkerdeel. Why does that sound so familiar?” You ask yourself if it’s a similarity to the British Akercocke – maybe? Well, perhaps a similarity to the illustrious Akerblogger, and you question if in fact the good lad was named thusly – nah, that’s not it either. You give a brief overview of their discography, noting that 2012 album Morinde features a somewhat abstract but violent portrayal of, what, a wolf beating a rabbit to death? That seems excessive for a predator with, y’know, teeth. Oh look, they were involved with Hypertension Records’ The Abyss Stares Back split series that’s fucking impossible to find. Then you land on 2016’s full-length Lede. Yeah, Alkerdeel is that band with the weird ass-over-teakettle farting demon artwork. Is successor Slonk more of the same – just a lot of hot air?

Lede was a disappointment1 on two levels: (1) it was a monotonous affair whose drone movements with black metal rawness felt as invigorating as a snowmobile stuck in the mud, and (2) its irreverently comical artwork reflected it. Wholly, it is unfair to sum up a sixteen-year innovative career and a proud discography to boot as just a farting demon. Rather, Alkerdeel has a history of inaccessibility in its fusion of raw black metal and sludge with drone stylings: debut De Speenzalvinge was as disgusting and unhinged as a debut can get, while sophomore effort Morinde honed its influences into a menacing one-two punch. While Slonk’s approach remains much the same as Lede’s in black/drone/sludge brutality, 2021 offers a much better-written album, reveling in its megaton density while relying on the fury of blasting raw black riffs. Considerably balanced while thickly suffocating, Alkerdeel offers a dynamic listen that surpasses its storied discography on every level.

While the dread-inducing sprawl of Morinde is present in opener “Vier,” Slonk’s true strength lies in its unrelenting black metal passages. Tracks like “Eirde” and “Zop” are highlights in their absolutely potent blend of density and energy. Unlike its predecessors, Alkerdeel does not rely exclusively on drone/sludge passages from the likes of genremates Dragged into Sunlight and Deliverance, nor on Darkthrone– or Ildjarn-esque black moments individually. These Belgians instead marry density and rawness in their best production value to date, recalling the concrete crunch of Calligram’s The Eye is the First Circle. In spite of sludge influence, these tracks don’t feel stuck in their own Lede-y muck, as their uptempo and nearly punky execution seems to emphasize the density of their riffs. Thanks to the bottom end, these riffs and upbeat percussion feel like grim treasures to unearth with noodly bass, climactic barks, and soul-shredding rawness emerging from the pitch-black depths. In spite of black metal’s super-serious façade, Alkerdeel’s blackened influence further feels downright fun, hearkening the upbeat punky feeling of Bone Awl’s Meaningless Leaning Mess or Ildjarn’s Forest Poetry.

While Slonk’s black-heavy tracks are clearly the highlights, its drone- or sludge-influenced sprawling passages, in spite of their competence, are so short-lived that they question their validity in the first place. Opener “Vier” is particularly guilty of this, as its drony opening moments have little to nothing to do with the tracks to follow. Further, while Slonk’s movements feel generally purposeful, segments in tracks like “Zop” and “Trok” feel temporarily stuck, the drum patterns in particular feeling overdone and lethargic. Simply put, Alkerdeel offers a very unique and well-written raw black/sludge beatdown in its punky Bone Awl meets Khanate passages, and I simply want more than the album’s thirty-seven minutes offer.

Alkerdeel capitalizes all its potent assets into one concise package in Slonk. A lethal blend of raw black fury with megaton sludge or drone density, it feels purposeful and tasteful while executed with precision and professionalism. It’s weighed down by some questionable songwriting choices and lethargic passages, its sprawling passages a tad wasteful, but this interpretation blackened sludge offers much more complexity than your typical bluesy bruiser or corpse-painted blasphemer. Balancing inaccessibility and blackened grimness with pure fun, these Belgians establish their sound as way more than just “that band with the farting demon on the cover” – slonk your way over to this bad boy.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 9 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Consouling Sounds
Websites: | |
Releases Worldwide: February 5th, 2020

Show 1 footnote

  1. As outlined by the mysterious and magical Roquentin.
« »