Lugubrum
Bruyne Kroon LP

In 2020 my then girlfriend and I planned a trip to London.  The timing was based on convenience of our schedules and not any particular event.  I’m a bit of an Anglophile and was excited to find music events going on whether it was electronic, metal, grime, indie etc in one of the most densely fruitful and important cities for music on earth.  Naturally, I scraped the internet searching for every music event going on in that 7 day period.  Unfortunately, my curse continued in this area, and there wasn’t as much going on as I’d hoped. Regardless, I was not traveling to the UK without hitting a show or three.  One of the shows going on that week was in fact metal and featured Belgium’s Lugubrum.  I had only a vague notion of the band having only ever made a few sample checks of later albums.  With a few months to go before the trip I dove into their discography to figure them out in preparation for the only interesting metal show I’d get to see.

By the end of February American media was buzzing about a respiratory virus and new cases discovered here.  China was already taking heavy measures and locking down whole cities.  Despite this, it didn’t feel quite the time stopping event that it would soon be.  That would happen the week my trip was planned.  Two days before we were scheduled to fly both the US and UK announced travel restrictions.  Massive buzz kill.  Having spent the few months familiarizing myself, the oft referred “brown metal” band’s strange catalog (mostly) grew on me.  Like a slowly coiling vine that began at the ankle I barely noticed it reach my arms.  What went from a weary homework assignment eventually bore real appreciation and enjoyment.

“Brown metal”…?  Do we need this? What do they mean with this?…[seven albums later]… Ok, this is unquestionably brown metal.  Lugubrum are the trickster intellectual’s take on black metal.  A sound that would play most fittingly in the environment of an old European cafe.  Darkly stained wood floors and bar meet darkly stained patterned wallpaper.  Original of course.  And I don’t mean their black metal informed cabaret jazz albums as Lugubrum Trio, but their aggressive material as well.  Their style is shambolic, and a bit whimsical.  A confident looseness that has an air of jazz, and the earthen folk played by the worn, soil tilling hands of their shared ancestors.  It also wouldn’t be Lugubrum without the absurd dry humor that is woven in.  Who they are as a band is represented by the incredibly fitting carrot and twig wreath of the album cover.

Opening the album, “Stinker of Stink 2” almost operates as their Seinfeld-esque theme song, which quickly seques to “Veteranus”, a solid track that showcases each element, instrument, and tempo summarizing the album in one track, but it’s not one of the standout tracks.  WHAT IS WITH THE FART NOISES! …Oh.  uh, yeah…the album is littered with palm to lips fart sounds.  I guess this first real track also serves to warn.  Anyway, pay no mind [awkward laugh] .  Moving on we find ourselves at a track like “Trail of the Tiger”.  An album highlight that cuts a 1973 paisley groove like a 19th century farm implement. With the abandon of a group of farmers four pints of trappist dubbel into their Friday night.  Now that I mention it, everything about Lugubrum is seemingly several Belgian strong ales deep in influence.  The song ends with the breakdown of a hearty, bare chested chant as the group settles themselves down. “Eu de Bolis” is a dirge of beauty.  Our farmer, in the midst of the rainy season, and a mild depression, succumbs to stir crazy. He turns to corn whiskey and a stringed instrument in fit where, at the 3:10 mark, the song dives headlong into the work bench.  Spitting blood and tobacco, cackling against the sound of shuddering thunder until collapsing into bed. A rinse and repeat cycle of isolation fueled mania.  On the far end of Lugubrum’s musical genetic code I swear you can detect a connection with Appalachian Americana-bluegrass captured in the Smithsonian Folkways series.  Surely, some distant grandparent of a member died on his eastern Kentucky porch with a banjo and jug long before any ethnomusicologist could immortalize their unwieldy pickings to wax cylinder.

Lugubrum contextual-ize black metal through their lens, in doing so, the music is embued with truth.  More “trve” than the average black metal band in eternal debt to the “old sound”.  Lugubrum is the mysterious, wooden box, covered in strangely comforting ancient symbols, discovered in the wall of a very old home…even for Belgium.  Authentically old in sound.  However, I’ve formed this perception of the band having heard all of their records.  Possibly, this album being one’s first exposure, that all would ring very true from the dusty, wood rot guitar tone.  Maybe from the production: warm like iron cemetery gates by the sun on the spring equinox.  Sure, horns, weird vocalizing, and the sound of releasing methane make their appearance, but since their earliest work, certainly compared to their previous 3 albums, Bruyne Kroon is their least artsy, most celebrating of its influences in the heavy metal that raised them: Dark Throne, Celtic Frost, and other regional obscurities I’m sure, are channeled into what, by title, is the spiritual twin of 2001 album Bruyne Troon. Ancient idols featured large carved phalluses in the dire appeal to the gods for fertility.  Lugubrum, in full honor of their heritage, respectively chuckle at the giant dicked hobbit god.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Mars Budziszewski
March 10th, 2022

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