WIEGEDOOD (BEL) – There’s Always Blood at the End of the Road, 2022 🇬🇧

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WIEGEDOOD is, per context, a rather peculiar band. Formed by members of OATHBREAKER and AMENRA (which also deserve their separate chapter), they appeared out of nowhere in 2015 with a full-length album: De doden hebben het goed (something like «the dead are alright» in Dutch) with no previous demos or EPs, and with a sound that placed them in the middle of everything, in a particular mezzanine. Black metal with enough power to surpass many «traditional» black metal bands, with a «naturist» touch that rules them out from that particular scene.  At the same time, much more orthodox than all these post-black metal bands hoping on the mediatic hype and commercial heyday And, of course, very far away from any Nordic black/folk. WIEGEDOOD was not revolutionary, but in that 2015 nobody was making black metal with those ingredients.

The album worked so well quality and novelty-wise, together with the surprise effect, that the band earned its corresponding legion of followers/detractors. Either way, the Belgians managed to dispatch two posterior sequels of identical names and proposals, in 2017 and 2018. Both albums had four tracks of around ten minutes in length, with those sections of relentless and constant black, alternated with very calm parts that bridged with their violent counterpoints, a kind of jam session where the half-hour of music flowed in a very simple way.

But after this trilogy, the most complicated part remained: to start from scratch and without a previous background to which to be directly linked. That is to say, once you have listened to the first, and the second part of De doden hebben het goed, you know how (well) the third one is going to work unless there is a catastrophe. But There’s Always Blood at the End of the Road is a new path, and in a sense, premonitory.

The new release is longer and contains more songs that are shorter. But the most important thing is that it no longer responds to a tetralogy. It represents a turn, not a very drastic one, but with enough degree of change to provoke disappointments and congratulations. Let’s say that WIEGEDOOD has decided to extirpate almost completely the most reflective part of their music, and dedicate their efforts to the most visceral, sounding like the modern cousins of TSJUDER.

We are talking about songs like «FN SCAR 16«, «Nuages«, «Theft and Begging«, or «Carousel«, in which they never take their foot off the accelerator. It is a very concentrated version of the WIEGEDOOD that we knew up to date and that could remind us of the brutish music of BLUTVIAL, and they give no rest during the duration of the song. The amount of malice they are capable of unleashing is even impressive. 

But ironically, despite the unquestionable quality of those tracks, some doubts begin to creep in. Although experts in self-plagiarism, each of the parts of the De doden hebben het goed‘s trilogy felt like a complete album, where each of the songs continued naturally towards the next, being a story in which it is easy to get carried away. There’s Always Blood at the End of the Road has more to do with a grindcore concert, where the sequence of the songs means one hit after another without respite, without giving the listener space and time to process what they are experiencing. For that reason, and as much as I may like this grindcore spirit, I understand why this work might not have been as well-liked. I understand why it can be considered a step down in level compared to the previous trilogy but, I also understand the title of the work; it’s the end of the road or an era, and they couldn’t keep doing exactly the same thing for a fourth time, with the risk of falling into parody.

Of course, there are still traces of the «old» WIEGEDOOD in «Now Will Always Be«, a long song well over eight minutes, which dares to use guttural Tibetan chants, where the riffs still have that melancholic touch. And on «Wade«, a brief acoustic interlude before «Nuages» that could have been part of a bigger song but is reduced to that, a brief interlude. They also experiment very briefly with harsh noise on «Until it’s not» before leading into the aforementioned «Now Will Always Be«, this set being the only glimpse of continuity between songs that we will find. And, that is it. This might have been some way of seeing how far they could experiment with their music, and we would be lying if we said that they haven’t succeeded. They have.

Is it then a step back? On the one hand, and although I quite like the result achieved, I can’t help but see a certain oversimplification. But then, a fourth De doden hebben het goed would have been unnecessary, and a mistake in the long run. Even if we are not entirely happy with the result, the Belgians have come to show that they are comfortable stepping out of their own shadow. 

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