Belgium has been firing off one after the other impressive act in the sludge and post-metal scene in recent years. Labels like Consouling Sounds and dunk!records are internationally revered for their outputs and bands like Amenra, Oathbreaker and the Church of Ra collective are bringing solace to people all over the world. 2020 delivered a nice batch of releases that wander around in those musical realms and here is a selection of some of those we regularly blasted from our speakers, deserving your attention still:
Eleanora – ‘Mere’
(6/11 – Consouling Sounds/dunk!records)
Just like many other entries in this article, Eleanora manages to melt together a grab of different genres to create an emotive and impressive piece of sonic art. While these guys have a slightly stronger focus on post-hardcore with screamo vocals, they blend it with post-rock bits, sludge punches and at times black metal tinged riffs. They do a similar balancing act between contemplative parts and frantic, aggressive chunks like their country mates of Amenra while consistently having their own signature sound. I find myself drifting away on the calmer parts and instrumental tracks, while the harsh and heavy parts with crazed screams work strangely uplifting in all its destructive force.
Pothamus – ‘Raya’
(4/12 – Consouling Sounds)
Pothamus brings an impressive original take on the whole sludge and post-metal sound. Half of the tracks on ‘Raya‘ are being stretched out into lengthy tracks of droning music lead by ritualistic drums and ominous sounding bass. The guitars and vocals seem to play more of a supporting role coming in more strongly when the flow of the music seemingly is asking for it without playing into the “quiet and loud” cadence a lot of other sludge/post-metal outfits use. It’s rather special how the compositions are very earthy, but spacey at the same time, combining the ritualistic sound with very post-rock atmospheric aesthetics. An absolute beaut of an album that works best when listening to it from start to finish and something we need more of in the future.
Doodseskader – ‘MMXX : Year Zero’
(11/12 – independent)
From fertile grounds threaded on by Amenra, Every Stranger Looks Like You, Kapitan Korsakov and The K, a pair of friends have sprouted and stepped up as the brand new outfit Doodseskader. Tim De Gieter and Siegfried Burroughs promised to unleash a sonic blasting upon the world with an eclectic mix of genres you wouldn’t necessary expect to mix well. The wall of crushing music that these 2 guys manage to exude, is damn impressive. A rumbling bass shaking you to your core, tight drums and a perfect matchmaking of Tim and Siegfried‘s voices ranging from harmonious singing to frantic shouting and screaming to ominous spoken word/rap. I’ve played the 5 songs of this release over and over, every time having them rattle me to the core, invading my body, making me move to the music and taking me on a roller coaster of emotions. If this is only a precursor of what is to come still, I can hardly wait to hear what’s next.
Mother – ‘Mother I’
(10/10 – independent)
Mother‘s debut album is one of those releases on which it’s hard to pick out the separate tracks. And you don’t need to really. The tracks having no distinct names besides roman numerals to indicate the “chapter” of the album, could’ve just as well been released as one massive track. The atmospheric post-metal oozing from the creative brains of this trio is absolutely mesmerizing and gorgeous and has still enough of a bite at the right times through the more harsh bits. There are hints at a blackgaze sound interwoven throughout the release without getting stuck in the by now signature soundscape of that genre that blends a shoegaze wall of sound with black metal. Mother has spoken and is one to watch for sure!
Modder – ‘Mudslinger’
(2/11 – independent)
Compared to most outfits in this list, Modder (“Mud” in English) brings something rather more straightforward but not less impressive. With the debut EP ‘Mudslinger‘ you get 1 instrumental track of over 21 minutes of a more “classic” stoner/doomy sludge sound adding an industrial touch through some synths. I easily think of bands like Godflesh and Bongripper when getting hit with their raw sound and the music grabs me just as strongly, dragging me into a dazed trance. The outfit promised a proper full-length coming this year, something I’m absolutely ready for!
We Stood Like Kings – ‘Classical Re:works’
(2/10 – Kapitän Platte)
To round this up, something more calming, distinctively more rooted in post-rock and very different from most outfits. We Stood Like Kings has always written music on a very original and artistic level, with earlier releases basically creating a full soundtrack to cult cinema works. This time on ‘Classical Re:Works’, they’ve taken classical pieces from some of the masters like Vivaldi, Beethoven, Debussy and Bach and turned them into gorgeous post-rock tracks that’ll take you on a magical and dreamy trip. The tracks hold nothing of the raw emotions that the other releases in this list spew out, but will still one for one touch your emotional strings very hard. There is a reason that these songs are classics and We Stood Like Kings gave them a masterfully crafted update, making them their own through the more modern post-rock makeover. Probably one of the prettiest releases I’ve listened to last year.