Kludde – In Den Vergetelheid – 4/5
Up until this album if someone told me of artist that combined the icy feel of raw black metal with the thick doom filled riffs of sludge I would have given them a funny look (much as I’m expecting you have on your face about now), but that is precisely what these Belgians have accomplished. Starting out as a black metal band there are still clear remnants of that fact in their thick, deep atmospheric riff work, complemented by high pitched breathy shrieks. Add in a dash of baroness’ prog influence (particularly in the lengthier tracks) and you get some idea how this artist pulls of such a unique style.
In some regards this seems like a style that shouldn’t work, and indeed we can clearly hear almost a battle between both sides, each vying for control as it seamlessly transitions from a slow doom-like pace to thick, aggressive tremolo riffs which – if not for the deep pitch – wouldn’t feel out of place in most black metal tracks, but a common ground is found in the use of a thick atmosphere. With a prominent bass sustaining much of the background tone, working much as keyboards do for many symphonic BM acts, he performs with the slow and simplistic drums heard maintaining the pace of the passage at hand.
Displayed on top of this are two distinct guitar styles complementing one another; the deep and bombastic chord based rhythmic guitars supplying a stream of sludgy melodies, working closely with the bass work, transitioning between a slower and hard hitting pace and use of tremolo riffs, they could easily seem bland alone, but for the manner in which they combine with the far thinner toned, almost delicate natured guitars. Juxtaposing much of the other instrumentation they lend a certain flare of variety to the proceedings, at times presenting an additional layer to take over from the vocals, which in turn perform with a breathy, mid-ranged howl proving to maintain the high performance shown from the rest of the group.
In terms of individual instrumentation, nothing in particular stands out as being anything less than good – perhaps not excellent, but good certainly. Instead the main drawback I find is oddly an unexpected one; there is little that stands out as being particularly memorable. Unquestionably unique, capable of providing an unusual merging of styles I find myself simply wanting more; more of the soaring vocal lines he contently restrains to allow the instruments to meander, more of the psychedelic thinner toned riffs to juxtapose the all too infrequent addictive sludge-like riffs, too often adopting the blander and simpler tremolo. The length feels appropriate, but it simply feels they could have layered more on top of one another, proven their abilities more thoroughly in this time period. It’s by no means a bad album, but just feels lacking compared to what it easily could have been.