Belgian blackened sludge outfit, Alkerdeel, are a quintessential cult band. Now on their fourth album, the quartet are famous for their uncompromising sound and unfathomable rage. At times post-metal, on other occasions black metal, these boys are always extreme. You might even call them avant-garde. But you didn’t think they’d ease off the primitive brutality on their latest artistic venture, did you?
As if to prove their dedication to the most confrontational form of performance art, Alkerdeel made the unusual decision to record the four songs on Slonk in one live take. That means none of the musicians took the opportunity to spruce up their playing on top of a ghost track. It’ll get the thumbs up from Fenriz of Darkthrone and those that love the primitive edge of the early Sepultura and Sarcófago records, and it also wins praise here at Scream Blast Repeat. This is a ferocious album of raw intensity and sinister minor key progressions that stand proud and imperious in their Wagnerian prowess.
The thirteen minutes and forty-two seconds of opening track, ‘Vier’, start with two minutes of static noise penetrated by sparse light rays of keyboard notes and drone sounds. It’s clear we’re in for something unorthodox, and the band don’t disappoint once the pedal effects of the ghosting guitars and bass contortions kick in. We never thought the words would go together in the same sentence but imagine an art-school band creating a prog metal version of Hellhammer. It should be unimaginable and absurd, but the cavernous reverb and imperfect mix give it the charm of a demo from the golden days of tape trading back in 1983. The vocals of frontman, Pede, sound like somebody trying to rip a festering cancer growth from their trachea, yet they never lose their apoplectic anger. Bassist, QW, thinks he’s in a jazz band judging by the way he dances around the percussion on his fretless instrument. It will remind you of Vous Autres and Mayhem, which is quite an achievement considering the differences between the two.
‘Eirde’ is TRVE black metal. There’s no other way of describing the Darkthrone dirge of this composition, although fans of Bathory and early Celtic Frost will also feel their nostrils twitch at the prospect of five minutes of unintelligible noise aberration. Who knows what Pede is screaming over the top of the noise? It might be in Flemish, but it could be any language. The point is the man sounds like he’s had a bad day in the trading pit at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Maybe he’s screaming an order for a futures contract?
The band give little thought to song structure on ‘Zop’. The vocals roar with no discernible rhythm, but the drums are louder in the mix and the guitar tone reminiscent of the first wave of black metal. Why is this so close to being aimless noise yet so captivating at the same time? The same question arises on ‘Trok’. The filthy mix and evil guitar notes are what your head sounds like when you get lost in a cacophony of war crimes and forget which side you’re fighting on. Maybe this is what it felt like in the aftermath of the Battle of Stalingrad for those that were unlucky enough to survive.
Slonk is a torturous experience and one you can enjoy if you give it the respect it deserves by sitting down and listening to it in four chapters. Pay attention to the duration of each song and do not let your mind wander, otherwise this album will take you into an expedition through the abyss, where the music becomes one aimless morass of noise.
This band want you to wilt under the weight of their crushing nihilism. It would be foolish to resist when you can ride with them through the darkest depths of depravity and atrocity. Our advice: Be careful.
Release Date: 05/02/2021
Standout tracks: Vier, Eirde
Suggested Further Listening: Voluptas – Towards the Great White Nothing (2020), Hellhammer – Apocalyptic Raids EP (1984), Thundering Hooves – Vestiges (2021)