Fluisteraars and Turia have helmed a progressive branch of atmospheric black metal in recent years, crafting surreal epics from somewhat lean compositions. The two Dutch bands apply a light touch to distortion and production, creating what comes off as organic works just as absorbing as those that have received a gaudier polish. The trilling, jangly guitars the bands favor take on a hypnotic quality over time — and time both bands do take, especially on their new split album De Oord, where each track clocks in at over 14 minutes in length.
Once immersed, you won’t notice the passage of time much. Movements flow from one to the next, building and bubbling with psychedelic tension as a riff is explored and ultimately brought to a natural segue and another takes its place. Both sides of the split are tributes to rivers that define the geography of each band’s hometown. For Fluisteraars, it is the Rhine; for Turia, the Waal. De Oord is an old Dutch word for where the two rivers meet.
I don’t know much about the nature of either river, but in listening one would expect the Rhine to be the more serene of the two. Fluisteraars, known for coaxing moments of pure beauty out of absolute maelstroms of furious dark riffage, turn more fully toward the light on “Oeverloos,” with an easy tempo and buoyant guitar work that meanders to a rather blissful conclusion. The vocal delivery is a new style for the band — more of a searing cry than the normal (and fantastic) tortured rasp. Turia, on the other hand, rage on “Aan den Golven der Aarde Geofferd,” pummeling out an invigorating, frenetic 18 minutes that only briefly allow one to come up for air. At one point, Turia reach a crescendo so alive with feverish energy that the song more or less explodes, quickly restarting in the void left behind with the shake of a tambourine and the exhale of an organ.
De Oord shows two of the Netherlands’ best black metal bands achieving new, or rather different, heights, and the split is actually the vanguard of a slew of Dutch black metal releases coming this month from the German label Eisenwald. Excellent releases from Solar Temple and Iskandr, both of which owe a tip of the hat to the veteran Fluisteraars, are due soon. Collectively, the four comprise a show of force for one of the most exciting black metal scenes active.
De Oord is out on 10/12 in the US via Eisenwald.