There are plenty of European countries that have produced quality black metal bands over the years, but The Netherlands has really come into the spotlight in recent years. This is partly due to the number of projects that the Haeresis Noviomagi collective (Turia, Solar Temple) has been involved with, but there have been others throughout the country sprouting up as well. One of the newcomers is Ossaert, a mysterious new entity from Zwolle whose debut Bedehuis channels equal amounts of sheer rage and haunting melodies. Spread across four numbered tracks that build to truly grandiose levels of atmosphere and violence, this is not only a record that feels like the work of a veteran band rather than a newcomer but also another must listen of 2020.
At the core of Ossaert’s sound is that familiar dense blasting, where layers of abrasive guitar work spews forth out of your speakers with jagged edges that aim to cut you open. But one of the immediately noticeable differences is how prominent the bass is in the mix and how it’s utilized in the songwriting, as it fills out the lower end of the sound and rumbles like a tank that’s destroying everything in its path. It’s a small nuance that changes the overall feel of the material significantly and makes the band more distinguishable from the get-go. Along with the more violent riffing, the guitars twist and turn with shimmering and haunting melodies that seem to only get more nightmarish as the songs progress. Even though each track hits the eight-minute mark or longer it never feels like any of the elements are stretched out for too far or become overly repetitive, with the layers shifting just enough to keep you drawn in the entire time. The balance between the melodic and abrasive elements on “II” are a perfect example of what Ossaert has achieved, as the pitches that kick in around the four-minute mark feel truly grandiose in scale and will send chills down your spine with how much power is being channeled.
One of the common elements of Dutch black metal has been the versatility of the vocal performances, as groups have utilized chants and other ranges that stood out from the norm. This holds true for Ossaert as well, whose performance spans a wide variety of clean and shouted vocals that always seem to be heading in new directions. After only two and a half minutes the first track has already showcased higher screams, lower growls that reach some guttural levels, and clean singing that retains the same level of power and atmosphere. Incorporating singing can be hit or miss in black metal as not all vocalists have the skill to pull it off but it’s done wonderfully here, with each word soaring into the abyss before the screaming kicks back in.
Ossaert seems to have appeared out of thin air with a fully formed vision that takes the violent and sprawling nature of black metal and layers melodies over top of them that feel like they can push you into a different plane of existence. The base of what they’re utilizing feels familiar, but the way they push outwards comes across differently and feels fresh within what can often be a stagnant genre. If this is the level the band is at already, expect them to be a name mentioned regularly in the coming years. Bedehuis is available from Argento Records.
-Review by Chris Dahlberg
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