Grafjammer - Smeerenburgh - (7/10)
Published on September 27, 2015
Released in 2012 as a limited 7”, Smeerenburgh is the demo from Dutch black metal act Grafjammer. The initial release, which was limited to 250 copies, had four tracks that was seconds shy of the ten minute mark. The band later released the demo digitally, combining the four tracks into two and adding a bonus track, for a whopping thirteen minute demo. While not as compelling as their follow up full length, Koud gemaakt, which was released in 2015, it’s a pretty damn fine introduction to an up and coming band.
Much like their full length, the band draws their inspiration from the likes of Darkthrone and Carpathian Forest, with an acerbic and filthy take on second wave histrionics. Apparently the band uses maritime themes rather than the typical goats and hell fodder, which is a nice twist. Despite the change in lyrical themes, Smeerenburgh just reeks of that cold and sharp black metal sound, but not in a bad way. The opening track, “Grafjammer”, has enough swaggering rhythm mixed into the chaotic black metal to get any headbanging while “Scheurbuyk” feigns with punkened riffing with a sharp tone.
The vocals are mostly rather acerbic, raspy growls but there’s an occasional deep grunt thrown in for good measure. The drums, while rather simplistic, add fuel to that punk-tinged fire, with some double kicks mixed into the standard double bass running operation. There are also occasional cascades of fast firing, rhythmic palm muting, like the main riff on “Kerckhof Batavia”, which is the digital bonus track. Most of Smeerenburgh, though, is relatively fast paced, giving the more rollicking side of Carpathian Forest or even the likes of Impaled Nazarene a good run for their money.
Surely not the most original offering on the market, but it rocks pretty damn hard. Smeerenburgh is basically second wave black metal with punk-tinged riffing and double kick drumming and a solid vocal performance. The band’s full length album, which came out three years later, saw the band ironing out a few of the kinks, but this demo really showed the potential that they’ve begun to capitalize on.