“Perhaps best summed up as an offering of somber, atmospheric black metal, the songs combine low, gravelly riffs and grumbling bass lines with waves of guitar melody that shimmer and mesmerize, accented by beautiful, haunting clean vocals and such things as keyboard notes that sound like a harmonica (or perhaps an accordion) and spectral ambient tones.
“The songwriting is very good — the three songs are each quite distinct and memorable — and so is the production. It’s easy to lose yourself in this otherworldly dreamscape of lost souls and restless spirits.”
photo: Justyna Urban
Witte Wieven followed that EP with a song named “Met beide benen in het niets” on a 2018 split with the Dutch black metal band Reiziger (available here). It too was a haunting excursion. Both sizzling and chime-like in its tones, and backed by primitive ritualized drum beats, it created a downcast yet luminous spell, and the singing (by the band’s principal figure Carmen) was again as entrancing as the music.
But Witte Wieven again leavened the spell with hammering drums, harsh screams, and racing riffs that pushed the music’s mood into torment, as well as dark, groovesome, strummed chords and wailing guitar reverberations that sounded like the distress of anguish.
After that, the word of Witte Wieven spread further, thanks to an appearance at the esteemed Roadburn festival in 2019, where Carmen was accompanied by W. Damiaen (Laster) on guitar and Dave (Gott, Ggu:ll) on bass guitar.
Which now brings us to Witte Wieven‘s debut album, the six-song/42-minute Dwaallicht, which will be released on April 14th by Babylon Doom Cult Records. One song from it (“Drogbeeld“) has already surfaced, and now we bring you a second one, “Koorddanser“, through a music video.
As measured by “Drogbeeld“, Witte Wieven has spread its wings. A jittering riff and syncopated drumbeats create a head-moving but menacing start, with Carmen‘s pale, ghostly voice (augmented by ethereal pinging tones) again giving the music an inviting yet otherworldly cast. The song’s unearthly aspects strengthen through eerily gleaming guitar reverberations when the beats slow, and there you can detect post-rock influences.
But the song also becomes more dangerous — hammering, clanging, clawing, and screaming, making the ring of the guitars discordant. The head-hooking grooves return, as do Carmen‘s distant wraith-like wails, leading into a finale/crescendo that’s even more dark and abrasive, more menacing and distraught, than before.
It’s always welcome when you see an already-talented band spread its wings like this, not forgetting what made the earlier music special in the first place, but finding new avenues to explore, new ingredients to add to an increasingly dynamic alchemy, making the results visceral as well as dreamlike.
“Koorddanser” strengthens that impression. The opening sequence foregoes black metal altogether. More like a kind of chilling but head-moving indie rock or post-punk, it gets muscles twitching, the clear ring of the guitars is captivating, and Carmen does some new things with her voice, but you can still feel peril lurking – and a depressive feeling of tension builds (what is the video’s protagonist going to do with that black rope?).
Witte Wieven hasn’t forgotten how to cast ghostly spells, but the rhythmic components of the song (as on the first single) have become vital new features, as have other stylistic ingredients. But you’ll also see that Witte Wieven haven’t forgotten how to create experiences of torment and turmoil. The tension tightens by an order of magnitude — the screams rush in, the riffing sears like fire and chews like saw-teeth, the drums pummel. There’s a high-toned pulse in the midst of the maelstrom, almost like a warning siren. Even when the drum-beat slows and pounds, the song’s closing moments make clear that the tension and the dangers will not be resolved.
Just these two songs should provide a big lure to Dwaallicht, but there’s a lot more in store for you. Every one of the songs holds its own seductive and disturbing fascinations, and with any luck they will propel Witte Wieven to an even bigger audience.
Babylon Doom Cult Records will give the album a vinyl release on April 14th. So far, “Drogbeeld” has been digitally released at Witte Wieven‘s Bandcamp, and maybe today’s new single will be too.
The album’s last track, by the way, is a live recording of “Met Beide Benen In Het Niets” (from the 2018) split at the 2019 Roadburn festival we mentioned previously.