New cool releases keep coming – and I keep listening… there truly are some real gems among these – but you have to get in there and listen (and decide) for yourself…

Wederganger / Laster – split LP (Ván Records)

I’ve for some time been of the conviction that the real center of development for European metal is the axis spanning from The Netherlands, through Belgium, to France. And this split from 2 Dutch black metal (in the widest meaning of the words) bands only confirms this.

From the crisp guitar-intro (a bit reminiscent of saxophone) to the Wederganger-track Klaroenen Van De Dood to the final lingering white noise of Laster‘s Vederlicht Verrad, this is a searching release, exploring the possibilities of different kinds of modern black.

Wederganger effortlessly spans a multitude of genre-inspirations and even though I from time to time got to thinking “how did the music turn into this”, all of the twists, turns and shifts are executed with both ingenuity and competency. The sounds of a band definitely not comfortable being straight-jacketed into a narrow genre-definition. And a track with an immense scope, that continously sends the mind skyrocketing towards new and exciting thoughts and concepts.

Laster starts out with a cacophonic display of modern black metal, wonderfully drum-driven and unforgiving, and everytime the music seems to let up a little, it is only to pick up immediately thereafter once again. Their track might be more in the vein of the neo-black of say Der Weg Einer Freiheit, Solbrud or even deafheaven, but their execution is impeccable and the track varied in all its intensity.

In Mourning – Afterglow (Agonia Records)

I’ll freely admit to not being up-to-date on melodic death metal. Too many formulaic, boring albums seem to have found their way to my ears… and alas, I’m not immune to genre-generalization when I’m not careful…

In Mourning though is a band I will have to spend some more time on!

Situated somewhere between melo-death and prog, they seem to avoid the pitfalls of both genres and create some mighty interesting music. Atmosphere and sadness emmanates from all of their long tracks, and I find myself being drawn into the music, taken on exciting and dangerous journeys of (self)exploration.

Epic is a word that attaches itself quite nicely to Afterglow.

King Dude / (Dolch) – split 7″ (Ván Records)

Quite interesting split, with both bands in neo-folk territory, although different in both texture and impact.

(Dolch)‘s track being ethereal and almost dreaming, yet still bringing some drama into the game through some well-placed guitar.

The King Dude track is more gothic in its makeup, getting closer to say Nick Cave territory and more brooding and fatal.

What really makes this split a complete package though is the not quite unshakeable feeling of connectedness between the tracks – as if they’ve been written to fit together, avoiding the haphazard feeling of something just being quickly patched together of many other splits.

GGU:LL – Dwaling (EP) (Ván Records)

The sludgy, dragging post-metal of GGU:LL from Tilburg in The Netherlands is of the hypnotizing, ritualistic kind that simply gets in there and messes with both your mind and the space-time continuum. It’s the kind where you tend to expect a live performance to leave you stranded, helpless, starry-eyed, softly swaying on your feet, not really quite knowing what has hit you.

In fact, the album is also exactly that, a pocket in time for you to disappear into, to marvel at the wide, unforgiving sonic landscapes created by these four dark visionaries.

Driven by the slow, pounding rhythms the music shifts from being excruciatingly heavy to being excruciatingly punishing, at times noisy – but never letting go, driving over the listener with no abandon.

Worth mentioning too, is the incredible guest vocals on Het Smerige Kleed Van De Ziel, courtesy of Farida Lemouchi.

Amazing album.

Angel Du$t – Rock The Fuck On Forever (Pop Wig Records)

Oh my – I totally fell in love with Angel Du$t from the moment Toxic Beatbox started this hectic, punky, spunky album. It’s like they take everything from The Ramones, Hüsker Dü, Bad Religion and onward, and put their own slightly weird twist on it while still keeping the poppy immediacy and the punk’n’roll energy.

Probably speaks more to the body than to the mind, and a lot happier music than what I normally deal in – but what the heck… we all need to lighten up now and then, and this album is perfect for the purpose.