I very clearly remember seeing this act at Roadburn some years ago, because of standing in the audience and thinking that they could go far. Buying the album and a split on the spot and what shall I say – they are still spun here regularly. Now, Witte Wieven finally give us that long awaited debut many have been waiting for, and man, no disappointment here!
First of all, this record is both – a continuation and a development. Let’s check in on the continuation element: The vocals by C. are still flawlessly executed and delivered with that screaming metal tongue that we all “love” with the intonation of flesh-shrinking pitch-black darkness. Furthermore, it is obvious that the artwork between their first EP Silhouettes of an Imprisoned Mind (2016) and the new record share the same similar orange-grayish hue. Finally, the drumming is as mechanically maniac on this one as it was on the former two releases (including the 2018-split with Reiziger called Vlucht), drummer S. should be lauded much more for the precision and doominess that is radiating from the kit! The last element on this side of the coin is the final track “Met beide benen in het niets” which is a live version of an older song and guess where this live version was recorded? Exactly, at Roadburn in 2019!
However, Witte Wieven are surely not stagnating on this new release. Their sound is now much more verging towards the atmospheric side of Black Metal, but never on the brink of Blackgaze. The tracks are more Wolves in the Throne Room and Ultha than Skyforest of Wounds of Recollection. There is a lot of acoustic groundwork on a track like ”Koorddanser” on which the clean vocals also shine brightly. When the track has a short break after a minute of pure semi-acoustic clean guitar lines and some great sparse drumming, right then in that break the guitar lines shift ever so slightly from side to side and tone to tone that it becomes obvious how much work has been put into the songwriting. These are seemingly small things, but when all of them come together so seamlessly and perfectly as on this record, then one must admit defeat while trying to look for something really bad.
And there is another plus on this record and that is the sometimes really powerful, pumping bass as on tracks like ”Drogbeeld” which kicks off with some cool driving bass that has not been that present on the older tracks. I do not want to connect the bass here to something like Post-Punk, because it is not, nevertheless there is a certain fervor behind it which is simply awesome and strong about it. ”Drogbeeld” also shows another different side to the clean vocals as they are never storytelling nor blood-shaking, but rather shamanistic and seductive.
To see Witte Wieven on stage at Roadburn this year will probably be another memorable thing, because the band has surely enriched their soundscapes a lot during the process of writing and recording this new album. So, maybe you want to come and see them play songs from all releases on Sunday late afternoon?!
(This one goes out to Lauri, who cannot join us at Roadburn unfortunately, but who will never not be in our midst! Brother, remember that you are always in Tilburg, see you there next year, hopefully!)