One thing that always strikes me whenever I try and think of bands from Belgium is that I have only two or three that really spring to mind. For only that small handful, it cannot be denied that each are all incredibly unique and dominate in the genres that they rest. Whether it be the more alternative signatures of Slow Crush and Black Mirrors, or the more extreme end of the scales, and Brutus or Amenra, all these bands really do exceed in their sounds.
Now, to add to that list are another band, who I know have been covered before on The Sleeping Shaman, and recently had a track premiered on this same very site. The band I’m talking about are Modder, and this bunch of bruisers from Ghent in Belgium fuse instrumental sludge, doom and post-rock in a way which is genre defying. They also mix in elements of grind at times too, this is brutal listening, guaranteed to piss off the neighbours.
Each track is a blistering aural attack, filled with dark ecstasy, and monumental depth, in equal measure.
What I find the most refreshing is that even though it isn’t reinventing the wheel or elevating the whole heavy music world into a different realm altogether, what it is, is confirmation that there are still bands out there shaking things up, and creating new music, the likes of which hasn’t truly been formed before.
One of the things I’ve found with Modder is this, for all its instrumental prowess, the lack of vocals doesn’t in any way lessen the experience. In fact, it’s hard to imagine if having a vocal over the tracks would even add another dimension, but maybe that’s just me.
Anyway, moving swiftly on, let’s look at the band’s new album, The Great Liberation Through Hearing. It’s six tracks of face melting, brain mulching darkness, that if you dare to experience, you will need to play it at least full volume, if not more. Such is the intensity of the whole opus, that to fully immerse yourself it will need some raw power pumping through the speakers.
Weighing in at just under forty minutes, right from the opening seconds of track one, to the dying light of track six, it is so full of sound that even after repeated listens there’s always more to discover.
Starting with Belly Ache, right from the very start it’s crushing. Blast beats and frantic guitars set the scene, and it’s brutal. As it breaks down into sludgy drones it is intensely feral. The chugging guitar and bass set the scene for the whole album, and the mix of vibrant guitar work and hard-edged drums are wonderous. Those elements of sludge, doom and post-rock entwine to give a feeling of the brooding dark that I personally love so much.
elements of sludge, doom and post-rock entwine to give a feeling of the brooding dark…
The same can be said of track three, Doom Denker, which plays through with the same intensity. Tracks two, Gazing Into Damnation, and five, The Devil Is Digital offer up a slightly more versatile side to the band, and while not straying from the path too far, they are more ‘user friendly’ in their nature.
For me though, it’s the remaining two tracks where I find my happy place, Feral Summer and These Snakes. Both bring out elements of the band where they shake things up and get a little more experimental. With Feral Summer it’s the opportunity to hear the broody bass dynamic that catches my ear. Again, it is both aggressive and vibrant, but that bass seems far more pivotal to the overall sound.
These Snakes is the biggest departure in the sound though, and by ‘departure’, I literally mean it takes a serious detour in concepts and adds to the mix some real Eastern elements, not heard anywhere else on the album. It has a real dance beat thrown in, and I really feel that this is the highlight of the album.
That doesn’t mean it’s better than the rest, it just feels like the point where the band took more risks sonically, especially to their sound, and it really works in a way I still can’t fully comprehend. It is less abrasive, and more exotic with these added elements, that shake it all up, and bring forth another side to Modder. That shouldn’t distract from everything that has come before though, it’s still plenty heavy, and is as brutal as everything else up to this point.
Coming away from the experience, I would say that even as the year is ending, there is still some epic music to find, and this one really is a beauty. Not in the strictest sense of the word, but for works of unparalleled wonder, this hits the nail firmly on the head.