Bezwering – Aan De Wormen Overgeleverd Review

My people, the Dutch, are a particular sort. We all agree that the Netherlands is one of the best countries in the world to live in, yet we are incredibly unpatriotic and love to complain about the state of our nation. We are also proud of the Dutch language, but at the same time we don’t seem to actually like it very much, and we take any chance we get to show off our prodigious English skills.1 Still, we too have our traditionalists, particularly among folk and black metal. The most well-known among the former is Heidevolk. Among the latter we have to dig deeper for the native speakers, such as Laster and Fluisteraars. Bezwering, phoenixed from the ashes of Wederganger, now joins that illustrious fold with their debut album, Aan De Wormen Overgeleverd.2

Bezwering are traditional in more than one sense of the word. Musically they’re simple straight-up black metal, their wave-quotient roughly 1.7 (mostly second wave with some hints of first wave). There’s some decent riffs and good energy in these tracks, featuring a pretty nasty screech and frantic blastbeats atop swirling tremolos. That describes 98% of all black metal, so to stand out from the crowd, Bezwering brought three weapons. The first is, as mentioned, the lyrics, which are entirely in Dutch and somewhat archaic to boot. Though the narratives they depict are basic murderghostwrath type of stories, they are lent an air of legitimacy by the native language. The second are the deep, bassy clean vocals, which take up significant space and insert a gothic sense of foreboding that make the album more mystical and less downright aggressive. These are occasionally coupled with dips into doomy tempos, furthering the atmospheric content and variety of the tracks.

This is where I come back round on that first paragraph though, because I am one of those weirdo Dutchies who doesn’t particularly like media in Dutch. For some reason, it always seems to cause the performers to overact. In movies and series, it has the effect of everything coming across as a soap opera. For Bezwering, it has the effect of making the atmosphere less gritty and dark, more Halloween ha-ha scary. This is less pronounced in the harsh vocals, but the cleans remind me strongly of the animatronics in our local theme park the Efteling, which is not a great look. On top of that, they are simply not that good. The tone is decent but his range is very limited. I recognize that language preference is an incredibly personal thing to get hung up on, and I would love to hear how people who don’t speak the language experience this.

Beyond my personal hangups, though, Bezwering has a good deal to offer. They balance spooky and aggressive well, with a cold and gloomy atmosphere, and from the frantic “Nagezeten”3 to the doom drag of “Rouwstoet”4 to the weird experimental post-black of “Waanzinskolk,”5 there’s a ton of variety to their approaches. There’s certainly some ailments to be found, though, as the compositions are often quite predictable and repetitive. This afflicts opener “Vredeloos”6 most, making for a sluggish start. The production, however, is excellent, especially for a young band’s debut on a small label. One thing I enjoy a lot is the thick, vibrant bass, not too common a sound in black metal and a lovely source of textural depth. The mixing is solid and well-balanced, and the dynamic master is very easy on the ears.

To knit an end to it, Bezwering is a band with plenty of promise. But one swallow does not make summer. They drop some stitches, singing the same tune a bit too often, but as a fairly young band they still pay tuition, and hopefully they will learn from the donkey and not hurt themselves on the same rock twice. Aan De Wormen Overgeleverd is a good start and that’s half the work. If they can get the compositional issues under the knee, they have a sunny future.7

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 9 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Van Records
Releases Worldwide: April 24th, 2020

Show 7 footnotes

  1. We are number one.
  2. “Surrendered To The Worms”
  3. “Chased”
  4. “Funeral Procession”
  5. “Insanity Vortex”
  6. “Peaceless”
  7. This paragraph was brought to you by the Dutch Proverbs Incoherent Translation Department.
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