12 Jan 2023 - Thorsten
Blackened Doom, Funeral Sludge | Lay Bare Recordings, Tartarus Records | Release date: 09 Dec 2022 | Favorite song: Below
As someone coming from the West of Germany, I have always had a strange “relationship” with the Netherlands. Being a young football fan, we didn’t like the Dutch, because they always gave us a hard time. Being a music lover I was always amazed by their scene and their metal bands and festivals. Being older now, I can definitely say “I love Holland” Its people, its landscapes and beaches. I am somewhat obsessed with its music scene and am happy to support it as much as I can. Not because a band like Onhou is from Groningen, but simply because it is an insanely good band!
Onhou (an old-fashioned Dutch word for “devil”) is from the North of Holland, close to the Northwestern part of Germany and in a historic region that spans both countries, Frisia. The four-piece was founded a few years ago and they have already released an eponymous EP in 2018 and their debut full-length Endling in 2019, thus it was time for their next release, Monument which was released at the end of 2022. It is a shared release by Lay Bare Recordings from Nijmegen and Tartarus Records from Groningen and man, it could not be in better hands. Both records share a certain vision and liking for bands whose sound is hard to define – and Onhou’s sound on this new record is precisely that: hard to grasp and define!
When listening to the record, the main soundscape is pretty clear: Doomy Sludge. Track lengths between 8:19 and 11:54 minutes indicate that we are neither dealing with quick Punk bursts nor with shameless Pop turds keeping songs within radio format range. Another main ingredient is surely Black Metal, just listen to the screaming and gurgling vocals, sometimes sounding as if the microphone had been pushed back into the guy’s throat and down his esophagus, and at other times as if they had used a vocoder. Either way, the screams sometimes remind me a bit of Marko Neumann of our darlings in Dark Buddha Rising, Sum Of R and Ural Umbo.
It is pretty amazing to notice how close Onhou keep you to their four songs (running 41 minutes) without you checking how long you have already been listening. I found myself listening to the record for nearly three hours on repeat – which means a lot for someone with my short ‘tention span ;-) That is also a result of the tracks basically breathing into each other, the listener would need to constantly check the player in order to check the transition from one track to the next.
But coming back to the different ingredients: sometimes we get some tribal beats like in ”Below”, more often there is a certain Gothic feeling to the songs, just listen to the brilliantly integrated synth passages underneath the opener ”When On High”, for which you can also find the video at the bottom of this page. Alex Loots’ Post-Metal roots (he was/is in Ortega) also shine through in several passages, maybe best at the beginning of the final track ”Ruin” which comes closest to Ortega’s powerful, earthy sound. The fact that this track features vocals by Ortega- and Farer-frontman Frank de Boer (no not the football player!) just closes another circle of awesomeness for this record. If anyone doesn’t remember the brilliance of Farer’s debut album, check out our review. When ”Ruin” takes a break in the middle and sounds like the industrial spirals from an alien spaceship’s laser turbine then one should not feel too secure because the next wave of hard-hitting riffs and slow-paced drumming is sure to wash over you in just a moment.
What Onhou are able to create here is a feeling of forgetting. Forgetting the world around you, all the troubles and worries. Only giving in to this record and this sound, this moment and this breath. (just like good Doom should always do!) And then we do not remember or feel any hate, but only the good things. The monument that Monument is. Man, I really love the Dutch. Just not when it comes to football… ;-)
Last but not least, here you can enjoy the video for “When on High”: