ALBUM REVIEW: In De Nevel Van Afgunst – Hellevaerder

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Since the release of their debut demo Aan De Aarde Teruggegeven in 2018, Dutch black metallers HELLEVAERDER have carved out a name for themselves, not just in the Netherlands but also abroad, with a dark and dissonant take on the genre which draws influence heavily from second wave Scandinavian acts whilst adding their own distinct flavour into the mix. The band’s debut album, In De Nevel Van Afgunst, is a continuation of their established sound, which also shows a few subtle but extremely effective elements being thrown into the songwriting mix which help to set this album apart from many other ones by similar acts.

Je Bent Niks Waard! starts the album off on an ominous, grating note, with thick, dirge-like guitars and minimalist drumming building a huge yet bleak sound straight away. As the tempo ratchets up and the music morphs into a solid piece of black metal, complete with sharp, melodic leads, chaotic rhythms and arid, shrieking vocals, it takes on a far more aggressive but nonetheless dark tone that combines classic elements of black metal with an epic edge. Donder Dwalen leans heavily into the music’s more powerful side, with great riffs interwoven in amongst the ferocious parts. The track breaks into a demonic waltz as the song progresses, giving it a brilliant twist that blends melancholic flourishes with some imaginative ideas.

Uit Het Vuur Getrokken makes use of a slower pace and hazier guitar tones to craft something that, although still firmly rooted within a standard second wave sound, manages to incorporate some more ethereal hooks that lend a more dramatic feel to proceedings. Here, the counterpointing of shrill howls and dense gutturals give the vocals a robust and layered quality that makes for a fuller sound. In De Nevel Van Afgunst is a monolithic piece of music that sadly doesn’t utilise the song’s longer running time to alter the band’s formula much in order to create any kind of change of pace that would make this a more engaging and impressive offering. Despite this, it has depressive, dissonant guitars, tight melodies, cacophonous drum fills and bellicose vocals that all make for a decent track, although it could have been so much more effective and enduring if the band had taken this opportunity to be more adventurous on a songwriting front.

Nieuw Licht strikes a more discordant note, with jarring leads, thick rhythms and the eventual descent into a faster, aggressive sound give this a nauseating and rabid undercurrent that does a lot to elevate this song and make it a far more memorable slab of lean and bestial black metal. Gemarteld En Verdronken takes a similarly focused and blistering approach, but with the introduction of sonorous, chanted vocal passages and a livelier, progressive bent to the guitar work. It’s a brilliant affair that sees the band begin to broaden their musical horizons a little further, whilst still remaining staunchly within the musical foundations laid on the first four tracks.

Vergeten, Verloren – another lengthier track – does a great job of applying the fiercer and more driven components of the preceding two offerings, lurching from intense, caustic moments to mid-paced, muscular ones. The musicianship on all fronts, and especially the vocals, seem to harbour a renewed energy that makes this far more engrossing than many of the tracks that came before it, and it does a far better job than the album’s title track of making the most its length in order to explore more ideas musically, ultimately closing the album on arguably one of its most impressive outings.

In De Nevel Van Afgunst is an impressive, if slightly hit and miss, debut album, and it is ultimately a record of two parts. The first four tracks, on the whole, are solid, and there’s some inspired moments in the earlier offerings on the album, notably in Donder Dwalen, having one foot very firmly planted within classic black metal, but the lack of variation within these initial tracks does hamper the album’s momentum early on. The final three offerings, on the other hand, make up significantly for this, and prove to be easily the catchiest and most imaginative songs on the whole album. With more songs like these, and with the solid foundations that the album lays down in general, whatever HELLEVAERDER create next could very well prove even more promising in the not too distant future.

Rating: 7/10

In De Nevel Van Afgunst - Hellevaerder

In De Nevel Van Afgunst is out now via Zwaertgevegt.

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