I remember the days when I had very little to worry about. Money was money, work was work, school was school, and life was life. Heading out to dinner or swinging by the bar were not so much planned as spontaneous. I was in control of life, was making money, stressed over what I wanted to stress over, and focused on what I wanted to focus on. My health was good and life was simple. Then I had kids. Mind you, I wouldn’t trade them for anything in the world, but it is incredible how a couple spawn can transform a lackadaisical lifestyle into one of routine and worry. Everyday apprehension is fueled by medical bills, daycare, diapers, clothing, public school, and Thomas-the-fucking-Tank-Engine. Just ask Al Kikuras; he’ll tell ya. But the first year is the worst. Nothing could distract me from the through-the-roof fear of a newborn getting sick, choking on something, or being taken one night by the absolutely frightening “sudden infant death syndrome.” SIDS (as it is known).
And that brings us to Wiegedood’s debut, De Doden Hebben Het Goed. How? Well, guess what the Dutch word “wiegedood” translates to in English? You guessed it. SIDS, “crib death,” “cot death,” or any other terrifying word you want to call it. While Wiegedood and wiegedood are both saturated with pain, anguish, and sadness, the biggest difference between the word and the band is that the band is quite predictable. They are very much what you would expect from a melodic/post-black metal band made up of members from Belgium’s Amenra, Hessian, Rise and Fall, and Oathbreaker. These worshippers of the Church of Ra bring you long, drawn-out songs full of fast-paced BM tremolo picking, blistering drum work, creeping builds, and somber layers of desperation and sadness. Paint the backdrop in blackened landscapes and brush in random doomy, clean-guitar passages to balance out the clouds of anguished rasps and you got yourself DDHHG.
“Svanesang” gets going in a hurry with all that black metal fury you’ve come to love (or hate for all you BM haters). Its initial aggression reminds me of the beatings I get from Gorgoroth, and its melodic qualities dabble deeply in the emotions of cold, hopeless numbers from Horna and borrow from the solemnity of Amenra. For the most part, this song pounds and screeches over some standard riffage for its thirteen minutes of post-black builds and mood. Halfway through, however, it halts and substitutes hostility for gentle clean guitars that doomingly act as an intermediate between the bedlams surrounding it.
The other bookend of DDHHG is much like the opener. “Onder Gaan” is long (twelve minutes this time) and has similar varieties dropped in during its length. But rather than squeeze in soothing clean guitars or beautifully haunting acoustic strums (see “Kwaad Bloed”), the closer opts for a massive build that dies momentarily before erupting back into a colossal, emotion-laden riff. These melodic sweeps slowly fade away and the outro leaves you uncomfortable and troubled from the female spoken-word reverberating in the blackened void.
The hard-hitting “Kwaad Bloed” and moody title track fill in gaps of this four-track, forty-minute debut to yield a package of sadness and despair that has been fucking with me for nearly a week. After nearly a dozen listens, this band (and their band name), the atmosphere of the music, and the album artwork (which is my favorite of the year so far) have invited Dr. Debbie Downer to the party. She sure does like her black metal, even if she is the pits. Having said that, DDHHG is definitely a grower and the song structures/lengths make it an album reserved for those attentive moments after the kids go to bed. The various stops-starts and cleaner passages keep the music interesting, and a few spins will force the mood to settle in (if you allow it). However, this isn’t groundbreaking, the compression is exhausting, and it lacks much of the emotion and spontaneity found in the members’ other projects (specifically Amenra and Oathbreaker). So, if you’re a parent that masochistically wants to recall those late-night fears, then settle in and let Dr. Debbie snuggle up with you.