Hadewytch – Welving (2018)

Hadewitch is a very interesting project, which actually manages to merge even closer the realms of experimental atmosphere and avant-garde black metal. This is also surprisingly one of my Malignant Records submissions and I often don’t know what to expect from those discs, which makes them enjoyable to cover.

The project itself though masterminded by Peter Johan Nÿland; contains contributions from members of Trepaneringsritualen, Dead Neanderthals, Turia and Greetje Bijima (who must be responsible for the chanting in some of these pieces) which culminates into something that certainly feels like a mix of black metal and tribal ritual. As the description via the band’s Bandcamp page states, “…it is nearly impossible to classify or define” and I fully agree with this. Though for all sakes and purposes, let us try to dissect the release as much as possible in order to give you a feel for what you’ll be hearing when you do choose to push that play button.

“Dageraad” begins our journey with a light bit of piano and some spoken word vocal before it goes into DSBM without the guitar, and replaced with a gothic organ. This is quite possibly one of the most interesting approaches I’ve heard to the genre yet, and proves that even guitars are not important to the sound and feel of black metal. I know that may downright feel like a stab to the chest for some of you, but the drum blasts, harsh vocal wails and eerie gothic keyboards seemed to capture the same feel as I would have gotten with ice-cold tremolo melodies plucked on a string instrument. Which proves that black metal is an atmosphere, rather than just a style of play. Moving on, we get into the tribalism of “Kho” which incorporates a dark vocal approach, much like an audible growl. The vocals here almost sound like a whisper. I also love the synth hit in this one, which brings a sense of unexpected majesty into the piece. I’m reminded maybe a touch of SepticFlesh there.

Those looking for more avantgarde material will find it in “Manifest” which actually features spoken word pieces in English. The industrial notions are felt hard and heavy, but there is also a temolo-backed sort of black metal energy to this. The album is described as a sort of dark ritual, and I’m getting that feel here. There are even a few full-on black metal sections, but I’m still wondering how much of a black metal tag we can attach to this. “Monolith” seems to continue with the industrial and spoken word approach, later rolling into a section of stripped-down black metal, but rife with a dark energy and even some rather impressive screams. This is really nice, I’m quite impressed. “Neveruim” brings us into a completely different atmosphere, one that I would consider a bit disjointed albeit in a good way. It has a bit of a creep factor to it, which the out of tune guitar strumming helps to solidify, along with some tufts of air, which radiates a hint of industrial atmosphere to this haunted house.

“Ezel” has a weird flow, which feels like a background wind fronted by harsh ritualistic affirmations. I’m almost wondering if this hadn’t been recorded outside to which bodies were being tied up and prepared for a great sacrifice to the Gods of the underworld. Whatever they were summoning with this one, I am starting to believe that it may have appeared before them. With a name like “Stofkrach” you’d almost have to expect the rusty clanking of metal. Despite the chanting and what almost feels like a stripped down Rammstein in the nature of harsh vocal and the thumping song structure, the piece slowly transmogrifies into a lighter soundscape right before being devoured by the demons of the abyss. I felt like they had eaten the Sun. “Kimaera” comes off like a light wind with slight drumming here and there. Though it features the same loud ritualistic shouts as heard on prior tracks, it seems to head into Clive Barker’s territory of fear and mystery towards the end. “Atavismata” feels like an industrial cut with more synth atmosphere, and I actually found it catchy. It might actually be the only accessible song on the album, which is a rarity for these kinds of records, in all actuality. The album ends out with “Minneroof” which is where the album reaches a true mixture of traditional atmosphere and power electronics. A spoken word portion is delivered as the record fades out with a hum.

Ultimately, I am quite pleased with the offering from the experimental collective and wish I knew more of the language to be able to decipher much of the non-English spoken word sections, particularly at the very end, which seems to be an important thought that the album would like to leave us with. Even so, I really do feel that Welving is the closest thing I’ve heard to black metal within the confides of this genre in several years. I really feel that there’s something especially unique in opener “Dageraad” and I hope that more bands will pick up on this guitar-less vision of the black metal atmosphere. It’s proof positive that we may not need tremolo riffs after all to create the same eerie structures that we are used to within the genre. That to me, is far beyond fascinating. You’ll be equally fascinated at the link below.

(10 Tracks, 42:00)

9/10

Purchase HERE (Bandcamp)

9.0

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