Dutch Metal

Am Himmel – As Eternal as the Starless Kingdom of Sorrow Review

Am Himmel – As Eternal as the Starless Kingdom of Sorrow Review

“Metal, and black metal-adjacent styles in particular, has traditionally tended towards the chthonic over the celestial in its imagery. But Am Himmel (“In the Sky”) choose to base their horror in the heavenly rather than the hellish. Their music purports to express, it seems, the eternal divine separation in “starless” metaphysical voids. It could be a project born out of piety or heresy. In either case, the import of existential terror is evident.” Heaven as Hell.

Celestial Season – Mysterium I Review

Celestial Season – Mysterium I Review

“Second acts for bands are always interesting. Sometimes the years away from the tussle and grind of the record release schedule does a band good, allowing passion and creativity to flow anew as it did back in their early days. Sometimes that same passage of time provides maturity and a seasoned confidence that informs the new material. In the case of Dutch goth-doom act, Celestial Season, we saw a bit of both of these progressions on 2020s The Secret Teachings. Coming off a 20-year hiatus, the compositions felt surprisingly creative, confident, and adventurous. They retained enough of the original sound from their heyday but were unafraid to wander into new soundscapes. Two years later we get the follow-up, Mysterium I.” Mystery season is upon us.

Freja – Tides Review

Freja – Tides Review

“I’m a simple creature, really. If you make your album even vaguely Nordic-themed, I’ll pay attention. The mythologies that have spawned countless legends, a whole lot of music, and many other artistic expressions are so enduringly popular for a reason, and their themes have similarly lent themselves to some really good metal. Freja is among the newest bands to find influence in this striking topic, a Dutch duo of one C. and W., who describe their style as one of “towering, thundering” atmospheric black metal.” The tides are a raider.

Faceless Entity – The Great Anguish of Rapture Review

Faceless Entity – The Great Anguish of Rapture Review

“The Ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus maintained that fear of death is irrational, for while we exist, our death is not, and when death comes, we do not exist. This hasn’t convinced Faceless Entity, whose brand of black metal they describe as “audial thanatophobia” (fear of death). The Great Anguish of Rapture represents an extension of their dour meditations to their most broadly philosophical release so far, following the more straightforwardly depressive early demos and 2017 debut In Via Ad Nusquam (On the Road to Nowhere).” Fear and loathing in The Netherlands.

GGGOLDDD – This Shame Should Not Be Mine Review

GGGOLDDD – This Shame Should Not Be Mine Review

GGGOLDDD is a band with a message. That sentence alone is enough to put Many People on edge. Because Many People are of the opinion that your sole duty as a band is to play music, not to confront us with stuff like political statements or uncomfortable truths. Many People say that music is supposed to be an escape and the only emotions an artist is allowed to make you feel are happy ones. Many People speak utter horseshit. Many People speak this horseshit because listening to a band with a message makes them uncomfortable, even when the message is as plain as “don’t fucking rape people.”” Words to live by.

Doodswens –  Lichtvrees Review

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.” Turn loose the dood swans.

Prospectors – Proven Lands Review

Prospectors – Proven Lands Review

“If you make stuff, you probably make side-projects. No matter how much you like what you do, some things get too big, too stressful, to focus creative efforts on, and the creative urge trickles into one-offs that reflect what the main project cannot. Prospectors is one such oddity, formed by a couple black metal musicians leaning into their progressive tendencies. They take after Colin Marston projects—Krallice and early Behold… the Arctopus—but temper their oddities with more conventional structures.” Fertile soil.

Extreme Cold Winter – World Exit Review

Extreme Cold Winter – World Exit Review

“The Dutch are often quite proud of their English capacities. We frequently top the list of most proficient non-native speakers, and expats often find it more difficult to learn Dutch because anyone who hears them struggling just switches to English instead, both to accommodate them and to show off. Which is why the moniker above is rather baffling to me. Shouldn’t it be Extremely Cold Winter? Or Extreme Winter Cold? Is the winter both extreme and cold? If so, in what other capacity is it extreme?” How about this weather?

Iskandr – Vergezicht Review

Iskandr – Vergezicht Review

Iskandr is a duo hailing from the Netherlands who purport, on their third full-length release Vergezicht, to play black metal with “battle-hardened” aggression and mythical atmospheres. I mean, what a great intro. I was already intrigued when I learned that the band drummer is one M. Koops, who makes up one half of Fluisteraars, a different black metal band from the Netherlands who stole my heart early last year.” Flying the banners of Dutch black metal.

Fluisteraars – Gegrepen door de geest der zielsontluiking Review

Fluisteraars – Gegrepen door de geest der zielsontluiking Review

Fluisteraars was undoubtedly my biggest surprise discovery of 2020. Everything about Bloem was simultaneously right for me and completely wrong for me. But I came back to it, again and again, and finally, it wormed its way onto my year-end list and continues to be a staple of my listening for long walks on the side of the road. I was stunned to learn that they had a new album coming this year, but looking forward to new material from these guys.” Flowers of melo-evil.