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OSSAERT – Pelgrimsoord (Argento Records June 4th 2021)

4 tracks – 41 min. 06 sec.

Abandon all hope ye who enter here… Besides a folk tale’s water spirit, OSSAERT is also a one-man sinister Black Metal project from the Netherlands, the land of windmills, tulips, cheese, peanut butter, Joppie sauce, ánd… qualitative Black Metal! Jack-of-all-trades P. takes pity on the voice, guitars, and bass while producer W. Damiaen from CATACOMBEN STUDIOS & LASTER stands in to sit and hit behind the drumkit. P. is active in the Dutch Black Metal band SHAGOR as well. This ‘Pelgrimsoord’ is OSSAERT‘s sophomore offering, the debut being the well-received ‘Bedehuis’ from 2020. Four long-stretched compositions await you.

Disturbing choirs accompanied by creepy, ghastly, and distorted organs lure you into the black hole of hopelessness that is ‘De Geest en de Vervoering’ (which translates as ‘The Ghost and the Rapture’). Lo-fi Black Metal guitars fade in slowly but surely and force the choirs into oblivion. Double kicks support dissonant Black Metal noise. P. combines destructive, scraping Black Metal screams with heroic and lamenting clean singing, which reminisces of Ihsahn (EMPEROR/IHSAHN), ENSLAVED, ICS Vortex (ex-DIMMU BORGIR), Niklas Kvarforth (SHINING), and BORKNAGAR. Then that epic riff. All ingredients are present to make this Black Metal recipe a delightful one. Probably the strongest tune on this long play.

‘De Val en de Beroering’ (meaning ‘The Fall and the Turmoil’) takes off rather stereotypical with raw & primitive Black Metal, however, as soon as P. applies those haunting cleans and repetitive & monotonous riffs, OSSAERT captivates you once more in its wicked web of eternal damnation.

A slower start distinguishes my second personal favorite ‘De Nacht en de Verdwijning’ (or ‘The Night and the Disappearance’) from the previous track, building up to mid-tempo. The vocal variation is enormous: gruesome growls, savage shrieks, you name it. The atmosphere becomes more aggressive and fast. Special credits go to the sublime sorrowing singing which guides you through. Then again more epic & harmonic. Somewhere in the middle, a melodic interlude follows, which briefly even evokes EDGE OF SANITY‘s ‘Crimson’ for me (weird association admittedly), to end hypnotically.

The final track ‘De Dag en de Verschijning’ (Dutch for ‘The Day and the Appearance’) starts with a bulldozer of a bassline and triggers a recollection of JUDAS ISCARIOT‘s hypnotic strumming. Furious in-your-face malicious Black Metal at times, melancholic moaning at others. Indulge yourself in an ambiance similar to that of SHINING. The outro speech by Lou De Palingboer, a Dutch sect leader during the 50s & 60s, brings shivers down your spine.

Throughout the entire album, Jekyll & Hyde is being honored with an emotional duality that shifts between revolting aggression and ‘tristesse’, provoked by both the minor key strings and not in the least the alternating vocal cords. That hellish marriage of rage and despair and those exceptional, torn chants are adding disharmonious value and differentiate OSSAERT from other Black Metal acts, in my humble opinion.

Although the Dutch (and sometimes Latin) lyrics are reasonably poetic, they are far from romantic. Rather they are dark, eerie, despondent, nasty, and disgusting. The morbid & “bile-spitting” pen of P. might make one frown. Even if a “stranger in our midst” by design, OSSAERT will blend in well in the blooming Dutch Black Metal underground scene with kindred acts such as FLUISTERAARS, WEDERGANGER, BEZWERING, and VERWOED.

Just like its predecessor ‘Bedehuis’, ‘Pelgrimsoord’ was recorded at CATACOMBEN STUDIOS, where P. intended a “roomy but oppressive and haunting mix which is muffled but also bright”.

REUBEN SAWYER etched the sober yet macabre cover art, which resembles a medieval engraving with alchemical and occult symbols, arsenic being one of them.

‘Pelgrimsoord’ is neither for the weak-minded nor for the faint-hearted. No fun, no happy tunes, no party metal. Prepare to get overwhelmed with sinister and filthy grimness. OSSAERT is a poison that gets under your skin with expressionistic, nihilistic, and nauseating Black Metal. ‘Pelgrimsoord’ is that type of record that grows on you, as if it were an addiction. Now hurry up to get your hands on this extremely & strictly limited material through ARGENTO RECORDS, WOLVES OF HADES, or SWARTE YSSEL, spin that record, and check out the interview with P. for more background!

8.5 out of 10 skulls