Label: ConSouling Sounds
Genre: Raw Sludge/Black Metal
Lede is the latest release from Belgian nightmare-masters Alkerdeel. This is their third full length album and it continues to tread the same sound of previous albums. Describing exactly what that sound is can be rather difficult. Alkerdeel plays a raw black metal that incorporates some elements of sludge, notably a heavy focus on bass-leads and extremely crunchy sections. Their songs almost always range on the lengthy side, Lede being a trio of songs, the shortest just under seven minutes, the longest 18 minutes. I was drawn to Alkerdeel for their unique mix of apocalyptic vocals and crushing instrumentals on their previous release, Morinde, and they’ve definitely kept it up on this new release.
The first song on this album is the longest, although depending on which version you have of the album, it appears to have been split into three sections. Regardez ses yeux (“look at his eyes” for you non-French speakers) is an endless tunnel leading into the dark underworld that Alkerdeel has uncovered. The first part of the song showcases their ability to keep a slice of music alive for as long as possible by slightly changing the beat, the bass, and the vocal approach. You get lost in the repetitive nature of the song, but atmospheric black metal this isn’t; it’s far too aggressive. They aren’t trying to lull you into a trance; they are trying to bewitch you. There is a short pause in the middle, featuring sinister bass notes and spoken word, once again in French, before the song comes back up to speed, this time featuring a slightly lower guitar tone. Just as soon as you think the rest of the song is going to be the same as the beginning, they drastically shift the tone and we have a crunchy sludge-influenced headbanger. The way those drums suddenly kick in with this amazing beat is fantastic, it just grabs you so suddenly. But that moment only lasts briefly, and the rest of the song builds itself into a spiral of noisy drum blasts and screams. The climax of this song is just great, because they take the music they’ve been playing this whole time, but make it even heavier and faster than it just was.
The second song is the title track, and it’s also the shortest. This is Alkerdeel playing vicious and fast. I’m not sure if it’s just how I feel about bands from that area of Europe, but there always seems to be a punk influence hanging in the background. The way that Pede, the vocalist, grunts to punctuate the end of a bar just sounds so punk. Lede is also their most sludge-influenced song, reminding me of other heavy black/sludge bands of the area, such as Year of No Light. It’s the kind of song that will get your blood pumping and your head moving.
For the last song, they seemed to have switched languages on us and named the song Gråt Deleenaf, which is probably Danish, so we can expect this song to sound their most Danish. Gråt Deleenaf is a slow burner of a song, working its way to a feverish pitch. The beginning of the song features an endless note from the bass, occasionally interrupted by the hand lifting from the strings and returning. It’s an odd sound for sure, and it adds to the nightmarish quality of this song. Once the vocals finally kick in, they are paired with wailing sirens that endlessly moan in the background. The vocals are also much more piercing; they changed the way they were recorded or something, and they sound ear-splitting. Apocalyptic is the obvious description they were going for, or perhaps hellish. The only break we get is about half way through the song, when the vocals quit for a second to allow the bass to play a nice little bar. It’s almost like a breath of fresh air that’s quickly cut off with more howling vocals and piercing noises. I can’t place the instrument that takes over for the sirens, but it is extremely haunting. A mellotrone perhaps? Or maybe it’s just a synthesizer tuned to the “hellscape” preset. Regardless, it is eerie. Alkerdeel saves their darkest and most unnerving song for the end and it finishes the album in great form.
Lede is a fantastic follow-up for Morinde and has definitely cemented Alkerdeel in my mind as the masters of this sound. If you’re interested in a mix between black, doom, and sludge, look no further because Alkerdeel has it entirely figured out. An excellent release from a unique band.
Check it out on Bandcamp: https://alkerdeel.bandcamp.com/album/lede