And now for something completely different: Belgian underground band KLUDDE, with this 2002 self-financed demo release "Langs Scheld En Denderland…" (disclaimer: that's Dutch you're reading). I saw these folks back in August on the local "Kleudde" festival (devoted to Belgian bands exclusively) where they left a good impression on me, despite the crowd being not-so-large-yet because they were the first group on the billing.
KLUDDE plays Black Metal, roughly spoken, with a touch of atmospheric keyboards and Thrash Metal here and there. They're not too heavy on the synths though, but instead add a subtle depth to each song in the background, precisely as it should be. The focus lies mainly on the guitars. I particularly like the riffing on opening track "De Schijnheilige Drievuldigheid", peaking with an excellent solo, courtesy of guitarist "Tering". Most of the times however you get the usual Black Metal treat with blastbeats and buzz-saw riffs, with some mid-tempo variation and a few breaks.
Aside from the great guitar-production, the vocals are pretty hefty as well. Ugluk has great potential as a Black Metal singer, rasping all of his lyrics in ancient Flemish language, with some classic lines like "uiteindelijk wordt de duisternis je dood" on "Slet". Whether this will appeal to anyone outside of Belgium I do not know, but you can just as well enjoy the music without understanding the Dutch language.
If I have one gripe with this demo however it is the drum computer. A real drummer is much needed here. It's not exactly horrible (I've often heard worse, thank you KLUDDE) but for example the intro beats of "Egidius" and "Shelob" have an awkward feel to it. I trust this will certainly improve in the future.
The highpoints of this disc include the already mentioned opening track, "Karos Der Toverheksen" and the magnificent "Kludde", which is my favourite track on "Langs Scheld En Denderland". It's complete with looming acoustics, Black Metal guitar attack and a few rattling chains thrown in for good measure. And for those of you who may not know who or what a kludde is: "In Belgian folklore, a water spirit which roams the Flemish country side. This creature, called Kludde, hides in the twilight of dawn and sunset and attacks innocent travellers. Warned travellers listen for the only sound which betrays that Kludde is in the vicinity: the rattling of the chains with which the spirit is covered.
Kludde usually appears in the shape of a monstrous black dog that walks on his hind legs. The faster one walks, the faster this monster follows, often swinging through the trees like a giant snake. No one can ever hope to outrun or escape this creature. The dog is not the only shape in which it can be seen. It can also assume the shape of a huge, hairy, black cat or a horrible black bird."
To conclude: this an interesting demo release from a band I wish to hear more of in the future. Any Belgian underground fan will definitely appreciate this. Bear in mind though that this demo is out of print (I'm actually borrowing this one myself) and you will not likely find a copy fast.
A commendable effort. (Online October 27, 2003)
Guest reviewer Ben Meuleman