Imagine the unstoppable momentum behind glacial growth. The inexorable, creeping advance of unfathomable tons of matter annihilating all in its path; the erratic detritus gathered in its passing and the unknown exposed in its wake. Imagine all this, and the untold centuries its progress encompasses, then try to summarize it in just under 40 minutes of cerebrum-melting music. If you’re having difficulty doing this, don’t worry, because Belgium’s Alkerdeel has done it for you on their latest album for Babylon Doom Cult records, Slonk.
A deceptively soft start on “Vier” inevitably descends into the hurricane chaos of Alkerdeel’s signature wall of sound: reverb, multiple textural layers and thudding battery collide in a fusion of blackened doom, sludge and psychedelia that defies all physical laws in its free-form abstraction but still delivers a cohesive (even if surreal) message. And that message is absolutely breathtaking in its cathartic response.
“Zop” perfectly illustrates the Alkerdeel audio aesthetic.
Whether that catharsis is merely relief as the last strains of “Trok” fade from memory, or the more affective relief of knowing that you aren’t alone, that you share this dismal world with musicians who understand nature’s primitive and violent urge and are acting on it on your behalf, remains unclear. Either way, Slonk delivers and the emotional upliftment that follows is worth the trauma.
The densely packed assemblages (neither songs, compositions or tracks quite describe Alkerdeel’s songwriting process adequately) on Slonk may seem crude at first glance, but with time their impact deepens as the longer-format entities (only “Eirde” clocks in at under six minutes) unfold in strangely beautiful sonic origami, layer upon layer of deceptively simple riffs, fills and vocal roaring. Blend the lo-fi vigour of Darkthrone, the machine-like rhythm of Mysticum and the fuzz of Dopethrone with a generous measure of Primus-esque whimsy and you might be able to see the first stirrings of primordial Alkerdeel; garnish this with an unpretentious – and punkishly unapologetic – live show and you’re even closer.
It has been a long time since I felt such eager anticipation for a new release and for once, I did not feel one iota of disappointment. Slonk has everything: a thicker atmosphere than Venus, more organic beauty than a rain forest and darker than the south end of a north-bound black hole. Alkerdeel remains one of the most exciting, dynamic and innovative bands it has ever been my pleasure to listen to.
Slonk Track Listing:
Run Time: 36:58
Release Date: February 5, 2021
Record Label: Consouling Sounds / Babylon Doom Cult Records