Doodswens – Lichtvrees Review

Somehow, we’ve made it to December again, which means the time for cold, dark, angry albums is once again upon us—or so I told myself when I discovered Doodswens (“death wish”) in the Promo Pit, a Dutch duo who plays exactly that sort of music. Specifically, they play frigid black metal of the sort that ruins happy days and wraps around you like a blanket on the miserable ones. Lichtvrees (“fear of light”) is the duo’s debut full-length, following a demo, a split, and a single since they formed in 2017. I’ve been in the mood for music of this sort lately, but I haven’t actually enjoyed a whole lot of black metal this past year. Is this the album to reverse the trend?

Why yes, it is. Lichtvrees is intense, fragile, and menacing all at once, owing to well-structured songs and a consistent theme. In case it wasn’t clear from the title, the theme of the day is death, darkness, ennui… you get the idea. There’s a ton of old school influence; the album has a raw, barely-restrained feel to it that manifests in moments of unbridled rage (“In Mijn Bloed”/”In My Blood”) and unexpected beauty (“Zwarte Staar”/”Black Star”). Doodswens are perfectly at home in both arenas, and Lichtvrees lives up to its titular concept with seeming ease, whether in furious blast beats, impassioned shrieking, or the relentless rage of its tremolos.

Part of the reason Lichtvrees can succeed so easily is that it is, at heart, a very simple album. There’s a complex emotional heart to the work, but at the end of the day, this is an album of eight tracks that spans thirty-six minutes performed by a band of two: Fraukje van Burg, who performs vocals and plays guitars, and Inge van der Zon behind the drumkit. There are no grand crescendos, no songs that build and build and spin you around and make you gasp and say “what was that?!”—Doodswens are not here to mess around. At the heart of the album is the duo of “Swarte Staar” and “Eindzicht” (“End View”). These two songs blend together incredibly well, with the first two minutes of the latter feeling like the concluding strain to the former. Here, they play things slow and plaintively, with van Burg’s restrained opening chords setting the stage for a powerfully introspective piece. Occasionally, the threat of extreme black metal rears its head, but the balance struck favors quiet cold solitude of a powerful variety.

At times, however, it feels like Doodswens plays things a little too safe, too simple, and too straightforward. I have no doubt that when they perform this material live, the songs sound very much the same as they do here, with one guitar in the spotlight, the drums just a little over-loud, and van Burg’s screams spotlit above the rest. The album is so straightforward in this sense that it occasionally fails to feel as aggressive as it arguably should. “In Mijn Bloed” is a good example, where blast beats and heavy riffs make up the focus of the song, but the actual aggression that should drive it feels secondary. The band has the black metal sound of the ’90’s down fairly well, but the feel isn’t quite there. It feels at times as though Lichtvrees is somewhat under-produced. Undoubtedly this is intentional, as it complements the emotional core of the album, not to mention its simple makeup, but it is at times a liability, seemingly removing the edge from aggressive tracks like “In Mijn Bloed” and “Het Zwartewaterland” “The Black Waterland”).

Simple is good, and less is more—I believe strongly in these concepts, which is why I like LichtvreesDoodswens do a good job of creating music that is as straightforward as you could ask for without compromising on songwriting or catharsis. While it feels like it could be better in some respects, it doesn’t feel like it needs to be. This is solid black metal of exactly the right variety to take on December and the winter season that’s coming with it. It’s going to get cold, it’s going to be dark, and it’s going to be just right for music exactly like what’s offered here.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 81 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Svart Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: December 3rd, 2021

Show 1 footnote

  1. “Onplaatsbaren” and “Lichtvrees II,” neither of which are “proper” songs, have DRs of 13 and 11 respectively, which skews this a bit; ignoring them, it’s a 6.
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