Album: Verleden Tijd
Label: Zwaertgevegt (cassette), Ars Magna Recordings (CD)
Release date: June 30, 2015 (cassette), February 2, 2017 (CD)
Good day, mortals, how good of you it is to tune in on my musings. Today we’ll have a look at Wolvenbloed’s “Verleden Tijd,” their sole recording to date, originally released as a cassette limited to 66 copies in 2015 and reissued on CD a few months ago by the good people at Ars Magna. The title translates roughly to “Past Times,” and the album indeed deals with aspects of Dutch history; the intro track, “Anne Hendricks 1571,” refers to a woman who was executed for her religious beliefs by being “tied to a ladder; her mouth was filled with gunpowder, and in this condition she was carried from the city hall to the ignited stake and thrown into the flames.” Jesus Christ. You gotta hand it to them, people were more creative with their corporal punishment back then.
Metal, and black metal in particular, are aggressive genres by nature, but Wolvenbloed’s “Verleden Tijd” is a mellow affair. I wouldn’t go so far as to call this DSBM, but it has commonalities with the style in the muted, subdued sound. While I find that many DSBM bands seem to convey a feeling of frantic desperation, Wolvenbloed tend to wander more on the side of lethargic melancholy.
Comprising of an intro, an interlude, and three black metal tracks, “Verleden Tijd” is prompt in establishing its sorrowful atmosphere and seeing it through to completion. The plaintive vocals are distant. The drums occasionally pick up to double kicks, but they’re muffled and don’t add any real sense of speed so much as emphasizing the slowness of the songs, while watery acoustic interludes within the songs help with the metal’s slow spiral into a dark abyss. The ambient track “De Radstaken,” which is very similar to the intro, is some well-done mournful synth, but at almost five minutes long it’s longer than it needs to be given the relative lack of variation it has. The final song, “Dageraad Van Mijn Einde,” is the best of the album, with harrowingly depressing synth backing the guitars until everything eventually slowly deconstructs, instruments gradually declining in their activity until it comes to a final, austere fade out.
Wolvenbloed have given us an album of slow, atmospheric black metal that may not be terribly original, but is thoroughly competent and very well performed. I’ve listened to the album many times on repeat, subconsciously aware that the album had cycled over but being perfectly content with allowing it to continue doing so and allowing the mournful ambience drape over me. Despite this, I had trouble remembering distinct songs, which tells me that the emotions the album conveys is a greater achievement than the distinctiveness of the music itself. Still, establishing and maintaining such a strong atmosphere is an accomplishment in itself, and approaching this album with the expectations you would have of an ambient album rather than a black metal album will set you in a more appropriate frame of mind to make the most of “Verleden Tijd.” I look forward to seeing if they can take their sound to the next level on their future releases.
You can find Voidhanger on twitter, taking his coffee like he takes his metal: black.