ALBUM REVIEW: Angakok (Self-titled)

Satanath Records (June 2015)

This Belgian trio have developed their brand of drone-sludge in two directions simultaneously, evolving a curious, experimental side while also achieving intense levels of ferocity. It is a balancing act that they pull off brilliantly in places, with the ensuing chaos sounding like the gates of hell about to burst open. But elsewhere this self-titled debut album feels a little uncertain.

After a droning intro track, ‘Sacrifice’ hits like a fist of misery: at first, it is simple and extremely effective, but later on the song explodes into life with some spectacular drumming (a noteworthy aspect of the album) and a searing stylistic shift. It sounds like a deranged artist tearing apart his beloved masterpiece in a fit of emotional meltdown.

Next up is ‘Collapsing’, which begins at a similarly slow, plodding pace. But we know from the previous track that we should expect the unexpected, and so we wait for an emotional twist… which sadly does not appear. This track does not quite deliver the same impact, and it’s difficult not to feel a little let down.

‘Samsara’ gets the energy levels back up before descending into more drifting drone, and then a couple of strange, short songs flash by like ugly swallows promising summer. Keeping things more focused is the mighty ‘Trust My Scorn’, a wonderful slab of seething anguish that showcases the band at their best.

Angakok’s straightforward, minimalistic riffs are a plain canvas onto which these lords of Liege band adds broad brushstrokes of blood-red pain and suffering. Their debut album is a mix of formulaic, droning sludge, extended samples that sometimes make you feel like you’re listening to the music with the TV on at the same time, and raucous, stentorian distortion. The moments of wonder are scattered.


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