While there may be some obvious, homegrown reasons why the Netherlands is such a rich breeding ground for psychedelic doom, it’s not too far-fetched to suggest that the country’s low-lying nature has an impact too, barricaded against a sea that’s threatening to overcome the defences.
Tilburg’s Ggu:ll (pronounced ‘ghoul’) might well sympathise, because listening to their vast and devastating debut album it’s easy to imagine unruly, elemental forces squirming just beyond its borders, pressing against the panes of consciousness. Part funereal, dread-induced catharsis, part Cult Of Luna-style post-metal pilgrimage, Dwaling is a journey into their own, cavernous heart of darkness. Many of the riffs throughout these six elongated tracks, much like France’s Lovecraftian adventurers The Great Old Ones, taking on a sickening, radioactive glow, as though they’re luminous portals to realms best left undisturbed.
For all the vaulting, inhospitable atmospheres, there’s a genuine emotional weight to tracks like opener Hoon, its disconsolate trawl playing out against mammoth, spectacular riffs. Dwaling (Gehirn Und Abgrund) is a Sisyphean trawl, William Van De Voort’s scorched vocals instigating a rite of deliverance, while former The Devil’s Blood vocalist Farida Lemouchi brings her imperious vibrato to Het Smerige Kleed Van De Ziel as it ratchets up the intensity to reach pounding, Swans-like levels of punishment. Throughout the rest of Dwaling, Ggu:ll map out tense and unstable twilight terrain. Waan’sbrooding narrative, bursting into incandescent surges, and Het Masker Vande Wereldt Afgetrocken’s stricken cadences are all driven by a sense of destiny that takes its toll and beset by personal demons they’re determined to make manifest. By the time you’ve heard March 28 1941, Drowning’s death-throe shudders and roving, searchlight guitar tone as if shone from a lighthouse at the edge of the Earth, Dwaling will have invaded your consciousness as much as Ggu:ll’s worst fears have seeped into theirs.