Walpurgisnacht - Die Daerwart Gaen En Keeren Niet Review
by Mark Hensch
Walpurgisnacht (Witch's Night) could quite possibly be the black metal band to put the Netherlands on the blackened metal map. Raw and uncompromising, their brand of filthy-BM owes much to the punk influences which influenced second wave acts like Mayhem, Darkthrone, and Emperor, the band being confrontational and nasty with everything they do. On this, their 2005 full-length debut, Walpurgisnacht take a myriad of traditions, filter it through their own unqiue and unusual life experiences, and churn out a decent release with plenty of future promise.
These myriad traditions manifest themselves in many ways over the course of Die Daerwart Gaen En Keeren Niet. The aforementioned Second Wave of Scandinavian Black Metal has its bloody prints all over this, Walpurgisnacht keeping the production low-fi with plenty of thrashing, blackened stomp. Much like the Scandinavians, Walpurgisnacht turn their lyrical focus on the history and mythology of their homeland during pagan times, the band representing newly settled De Peel in the Southern quarter of Holland. This land of obscure folklore, grim legends, and overall mystic gloom combined with a landscape of fetid bogs and messy forests, the end result being a sort of mud-splattered black magic all over Die Daerwart. Though the band sings in their native Dutch tongue, it is obvious that the order of the day on this disc is esotericism and evil. In a nod to the eventual ascendancy to diabolical grandeur first taken by Emperor, Walpurgisnacht also seems unafraid to experiment with epic, melancholic, and/or symphonic touches, and my guess is that on later discs they will exploit these facets of their sound even further.
As for the album on a song-by-song basis, the majority of Die Daerwart is surprisingly enjoyable. The production (as is common with almost all BM) is a bit on the muffled/hollow side, but as much as it makes certain musical aspects difficult to discern in the mix, the atmoshpere shoots up and Daerwart is suprisingly capable of envoking certain moods in a listener. The buzzing churchbell menace of intro "Schimmenrijk" for example works wonderfully, and from here on out Daerwart mauls the listener with furious blasting BM and little else. For a forty-two minute album, this disc is surprisingly breakneck, and things rarely drag. Songs like "Vanden Doolenden Ritter" and "De Kluizenaar" are the most typical styles of BM on the disc, offering up blistering and fast black metal assaults tinged with stabbing melodies and flustered percussion. At other junctures, Walpurgisnacht chooses to add subtle but fresh twists to their typical sound, with all sorts of quirky surprises on offer for the discerning BM fan. "Nachtgebroed" has some mildly epic sounds to the riffs, but the real star-making point on this song is its chugging riffs and startling clarity adding an oldschool slow-headbang feel to the proceedings. "Mijn Dieraer Peellant" kicks off immediately after this with rousing orchestra effects all before exploding into more recognizable fare. The aforementioned "De Kluizenaar" and later song "Verlokt ist Verloren" utilize some throaty clean vocals along with the typical BM rasping, all to powerful effect. As punked-out and blackened riff buffet your ears like gale-force winds, the folk vox kick in and shows that this band has as much in common with somebody like Skyforger as they do with say Mayhem. Perhaps this isn't the most apt of comparisons, but there is a definite utilization of traditional folk elements on this album. "Bochbroch" marks the start of frontman Mor Den Naere's gradual descent into madness, screaming filthy "Oi's!" over swinging, knock-out riffs. On "Duyvelsrit Der Bokkenreyders," the man froths and howls, at one point even descending into hysterial, diabolical laughter over the blastbeating chaos. He is definitely having fun, and I think we some better production and more varied vocal work, he could be a great frontman.
Dir Daerwart Gaen En Keeren Niet has two flaws---the Dutch is annoying to speak or write out, and the production is mildly thin. Just kidding about that first part folks...and as for the second, well, this is BM not power metal. Though not the most original of sins, Walpurgisnacht seem to be hungry and talented musicians, with enough energy to set a room off and enough willingness towards experimentation to appease everybody else not impressed by sheer energy alone. It may not be the best release in the world, but as far as raw BM with some folkish or symphonic touches goes, few bands I've heard sound this solid this fast. For a debut full-length release, Die Daerwart Gaen En Keeren Niet is surprisingly tight and a lot of fun. Check it out if you get a chance!
Walpurgisnacht's Dir Daerwart Gaen En Keeren Niet
2. Vanden Doolenden Ritter
3. De Dood Van Kyerie
5. Mijn Dierbaer Peellant
6. De Kluizenaar
7. Verlokt ist Verloren
9. Duyvelsrit Der Bokkenreyders
10. Verschroeide Verlatenheid
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