Licht is an enjoyable EP that plays like a scribbled love letter to the legends of the genre of the nineties, priding purity of form and unpretentious clarity over complex arrangements and needless clutter. Consisting of six track—three fleshed-out songs and three ambient interludes—Licht features vocals which are reminiscent of Ildjarn‘s disintegrating bile, if not slightly less vitriolic than that Norwegian titan. The ambient interludes, which are hardly more than simple keyboard doodles, achieve little on their own but serve the whole EP well as a palette cleanser for the main three compositions.
While bare-boned arrangements and an equally barren production are wisely balanced with fuzzed-out, trance-like walls of atmospheric guitar throughout the entirety of Licht, the first full song, ‘Paniek’, makes the most of the charmingly D.I.Y. production without seeking to draw too much extremity out of it. Never is Ande thin or lacking in punch in spite of the stripped-back approach, with the opener doing much to set the right tone for the rest of this too-brief EP.
The second track proper, ‘Beelden’ (Statue), manages to evoke some of the energetic candour of early Burzum without feeling too derivative or familiar. Heaving along with greater force than its predecessor, the EP’s longest track at eight minutes hammers and scythes away confidently before eventually settling into more of a spacious, repetitive, almost groove-like stomp which eventually grinds down to a slow pummel, extracting great dramatic effect from winding the track down rather than up. The EP’s central and strongest track, ‘Beelden’ best encompasses Ande’s distillation of the artier end of the second-wave-of-black-metal sound without sounding unoriginal. Perhaps the absence of smothering blast-beats is what best allows these tracks to breath, relegating the percussion to keeping the ‘hortator‘ beat going amidst the churning, buzzing guitars.
Licht‘s final piece, ‘Den’—is where, I think, the corrosive Ildjarn-style vocals come into their own, barking oppressively over the bludgeoning beat and dropping out occasionally only to provide brief respite before the onslaught continues. While the first half is relentlessly brutal, a mid-point breakdown allows for the whole horrible machine to wind back up and return fiercer and more punishing than before—a great example of how simple ingredients used wisely can really get the job done. Not to press the Ildjarn comparison too far, the EP really does feel like a more expansive, patient, and perhaps even atmospheric take on that sound, even evoking early Beherit in the use of slower, chunkier songs with inconspicuous production. Ande’s dedication and love for nineties black metal manages to be a boon rather than a millstone—a meditation on how brutality and misanthropy can be communicated through the simplest, rawest of means.
Written by: Simon Gould
Label: Independent (Belgium) / None / CD, Digital