Lots of good Belgian stuff coming my way these days. Had some good Belgian chocolate the other day. Just found out that a restaurant that specializes in excellent Belgian brews and sour Flemish ales – not to mention the requisite mussels and fries – is opening about ten minutes from my house. And now here comes the fourth album from Gorath, a Belgian act who play a sprawling, vaguely progressive version of classic black metal.

“Tombeveld” opens with a twangy drone and drums beating a persistent tattoo on your front door, like the hangman come to drag you away. Much of the lengthy track lopes through a variety of ragged, mid-paced grooves and menacing bass lines, a thick, gargled vocal on top of it all. It all sounds vaguely Teutonic until an epic melody line in the final minutes recalls more of that classic Norwegian sound. The sludgy groove and smoky crawling ichor continue to ooze through segments of “Doed over’t Galgeveld” and “Do ut Des,” where other tracks like “Thiedenbecke,” “Godsgerecht Geschiedde” and the furious “Heidewake” break into faster, more blistering black metal pacing, louder drums and twisty, tremolo, plague-inducing riffs. Pretty standard stuff but expertly done, and topped off with a filthy but balanced production, courtesy of Dan Swanö.

The majority of the tracks here are long, multi-passage affairs, though not nearly as progressive as other descriptions of their sound might suggest. Only the final track here, “Gesta Sancti Servati,” did anything to really deserve that tag, with an opening of discordant, depressive atmospheric mope (shades of Les Legions Noire), and then a sinuous, progressive guitar line that wriggles in and out of the album’s final minutes.

While I can’t deny this is certainly high quality stuff, most of MXCII isn’t necessarily breaking any new (unhallowed) ground. I will say it’s overall more appealing and substantial than The Black or Syrach, two other recent (actually, previously dormant) acts who also mix that 90s black metal sound with a touch of doomy swagger. And you know, not everything needs to be new and fresh – sometimes old and rotten is just what’s needed. But not if you’re eating mussels.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jordan Itkowitz
April 27th, 2010


  1. Commented by: Cynicgods

    Well, you got me interested in it, Gaba. All I can ask from a reviewer. I’m checking it out tonight.

    Oh and what are mussels?

  2. Commented by: gabaghoul

    mussels are kinda like clams but in long black shells. you usually get them in stews or paella. Belgians like ’em with fries; the restaurant/bar I mentioned does ’em in a bacon/gorgonzola sauce, a garlic/parmesan or with curry cream and apples. great dipping juice for the fries too.

    fuck, now I am hungry.

  3. Commented by: Cynicgods

    Oh yeah, mejillones (that’s what they’re called in Spanish). Didn’t know their name in English. I fucking hate them, it’s as if I’m trying to eat a loogie. Definitely not for me. I grew up in a coastal town yet I’m extremely picky about seafood, go figure.

    In other news, the band’s quite good. Thanks!

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