Wijsgeer & Narreman

Laster, from Utrecht, in the Netherlands, have a classic ’90s atmospheric black metal sound – some might label this as DSBM (depressive/suicidal black metal), a term that gained popularity around the time of Leviathan and Xasthur, but Burzum’s spare and vicious nocturnes needed no such moniker back in the day. Others might also tag this as Cascadian, but Drudkh was rushing through wind-jangled forests and screaming into the rain long before the wolves started sniffing around any throne room.

So I’ll stick with the Burzum comparison as a starter, but there’s a grandiose fullness to Laster’s approach which also recalls Emperor’s infamous wall-of-sound on In the Nightside Eclipse, or more recently (well, 2000), the epic apocalyptic heavings of sadly-defunct Bay Area black metal outfit Weakling. This is largely due to an unorthodox use of brass instrumentation (synthesized, most likely) as the bass (particularly in the opener, “In levenskolken, in dadenstorm”) which provides a broad, warm foundation beneath the hive-of-hornets melodic storm above. I can’t quite pick out the instruments – it sounds like French horns, tubas, etc – but it’s a different sound than the vaguely Gothic keyboard swells you usually hear in this kind of atmospheric black metal (again, compare with In the Nightside Eclipse), and it gives the music a unique and mythic tone. The screams are, of course, a formless and pained howl, but perfectly rendered and balanced against the swirling chaos.

The second and third tracks on the EP are slightly less epic than the opener, but no less ferocious. Halfway through “Tot eenheid verweven,” the melodies and pacing become more regal and Drudkh-ian, the drumming more hypnotic as well. “Wijsgeer ende narreman” follows suit, steady and slow, almost like a waltz. You can hear the symphonic elements buried deep, deep down below the buzz, so faint that they’re barely there, yet they still lend the music its color and tone. It’s a restrained and welcome approach to this kind of instrumentation, as opposed to the gaudy whoo-whoo Gothic ornamentation so common in melodic black metal.

If there’s one thing I’d like to hear from Laster next, it’s slightly more structure in their songs, and more clarity to the melodies. The somber ebb and flow approach here is nice, but even classic Burzum chose a motif or theme and then ran with it. I love the sound that Laster has achieved here, particularly the tasteful and subtle integration of warm symphonic elements as a foundation – if they can keep our attention riveted for an entire full-length, they’ll make quite a name for themselves in the genre.

The EP is available on band camp (link below), so check it out for yourself.

(Also thanks to our own Gordeth, of the very useful metal shopping catalog The Metal Detektor;,  for the heads up.)

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jordan Itkowitz
August 10th, 2012


  1. Commented by: gordeth

    Good review. Thanks for the plug! :)

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