Countess – Heilig Vuur

Countess – Heilig Vuur - 4/5
Side One:
Side Two:

When one thinks of great black metal bands, they often associate with a country; Norway and France are popular choices. United States and Russia are not uncommon. The Dutch really don’t come up very often. Yet here stand one of the most solid traditional black metal albums out there, written entirely in Dutch, by one-man known to the world (ha-ha) as Orlok. Orlok’s Countess can really be summed up with the idea of traditional, or ‘orthodox’ black metal. There are no big outside influences, nor not much separating this from other black metal bands, outside it’s better song-writing, better use of traditional elements, such as keys or samples, better atmosphere. This is just really better then most traditional black metal.

What turns me off from a decent portion of bands like these is they often have the most distracting drumming parts ever. Because it’s just one person programming the drum tracks, they think it’s okay to have light-speed drumming that sounds weak and purposeless. Thank Christ this is not the case here. Orlok keeps the drumming between mid-tempo and fast rock beats, and use the drum tones to actually keep a normal, pounding beat. The guitar is that strong balance between riffy and tremolo-wall-of-sound that makes the band sound different, when it’s really quite ordinary. Can’t hate on it though, because it works, it sounds cool, and it doesn’t have to be strikingly original to do either of those things. The thing that sold the band for me is the vocals. I’m just a sucker for those black sounding rasping growls that sound like they’ve been digitized and run through static, giving that whole other-worldly evil vibe. It’s one of those things I just can’t resist, and the chorus to the title track just works that so well.

Top tracks are Heilig Vuur, De Wilde Jacht, and Drakendoder, though the last couple of live tracks are quite fun in their own right. The basics of this album are old school black metal that uses traditional black metal elements sparsely and well, with a solid production. The reason it doesn’t get a higher score is that it doesn’t feel epic or advancing, as if it’s doing anything for the genre. A band doesn’t have to do that to be good, but in my opinion; it does in order to be perfect. Nonetheless, incredibly solid album. Pick it up for some good black metal.