Wiegedood - De Doden Hebben Het Goed - (7.5/10)
Published on May 18, 2015
With Gorath and Huldrefolk having been laid to rest and Aguynguerran taking their merry time to come up with a new album (seven years and counting…), the time is right for a new band to make a splash in the small but fecund Belgian black metal scene. On the face of it, Wiegedood (which literally translates to “crib death,” a.k.a. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) seem to have a few things going for them: striking cover art that perfectly captures that calm before the storm sense of unease, members who cut their teeth in respected local acts like Amenra and Oathbreaker, and some positive pre-release buzz. Nice. So are they primed and ready to ascend to the upper echelon of Belgian black metal and join the likes of Enthroned and… Enthroned?
Sorry for being my normal sourpuss self, but no. They certainly can’t be faulted for not giving it a good shot, though—their brand of lengthy, emotionally charged and ornate black metal straddling a host of influences ranging from Wodensthrone (and thus necessarily Drudkh), to Necrophobic, to Enslaved. While the playing is spot on, what ultimately holds De Doden Hebben Het Goed (The Dead Have it Good) back is the sense that the guys are holding back. Arguably the work of a band more than confident in their ability to get the basics right but a little wary in terms of pushing boundaries, Wiegedood’s debut is a maddening case of what-could-have-been. It’s not like there’s anything terribly wrong with the album in its current form, with the deft intertwining of searing tremolo picked riffs, cutting leads and measured tempo shifts being worked to great effect on “Kwaad Bloed,” which, together with opener “Svanesang,” helps to build up a lot of urgency that gradually gives way to darker tones on the title track. The effective use of repetition on said track is commendable, making for a demure number that fans of something like Austere would surely enjoy.
It’s all excellently played and produced and quite enjoyable, in spite of the repetitive character of some of the riffs and melodies, but by the time “Onder Gaan” rolls around it’s hard to look past the samey-ness of it all, as well as the aforementioned sense of restraint. That I was able to start humming a particular melody BEFORE it popped up about halfway through the abovementioned track speaks volumes about the predictability at play here. It’s precisely for this reason that the band should’ve taken the plunge by foregrounding the progressive side of their sound a bit more—embellishing the songs with some Enslaved-style clean/harsh vocal interplay and atmosphere or perhaps even chucking a trombone in there a la Sear Bliss would’ve gone a long way towards arresting the more pedestrian moments that show up here and there.
Far be it for me to dictate what a band should or should not do with their own music but one gets the feeling that, given their proclivity for long songs that run through various riff and/or melodic cycles, the guys in Wiegedood are well positioned to explore the more experimental side of their songs that is only latent on De Doden Hebben Het Goed. A solid album for sure, but I’m sure the best is yet to come…