Pass the Carrots, Please

A Provocative Lugubrum Primer

posted on 2/2016   By: Michael Wuensch

One of the most considerable windfalls afforded by the second wave of black metal in the early 90s was the fact that it provided a harsh and crucial reconnection with metal’s Primordial Soup. That’s not to say that the more commercial face of the genre was without its merits, but many involved with extreme music felt a need to renew a back-to-the-basics design that pushed raw energy and evil intensity through cold, antediluvian production methods, and with little regard for celebrity (barring infamy) or financial gravy.

Grim atmosphere. Poisoned blood. Degeneracy. Shrieking, slipshod, rickety hate. Whether intentional or not, black metal challenged and (ideally) distressed listeners, and if you happened to resonate on a similarly glum & ghastly wavelength, the early 2nd wave was an ideal soundtrack for bolting into the woods and howling at the moon.

But, as has been discussed ad nauseam over the years, where there is art and invention, there will always be progression; it didn’t take long for the 2nd wave to begin bending to virtually any and all angles.

And there was much rejoicing.

And even more complaining.

Out of that long and loud storm, however, some true gems were forged, many of which managed to fashion wholly new styles within (and beyond) black metal, with all the reputation and profit that occasionally accompanies progression and pluck.

And then there’s Lugubrum. The carrot cult. The boersk blek metlers. Swamis of the Brown Netherworld. A band whose beginnings were rooted in the same crude tar that birthed rotters such as Darkthrone and Burzum, but they trekked the well-worn path in a decidedly different manner. Sure, the onset was marked by some fairly typical affair that included nature, trolls and even “secret helmets,” but someone must have slipped something shady into their peket early on because things got pretty peculiar pretty quick, and they’ve only gotten stranger with each passing year. Not a lot of black metal bands showcase the sort of loony artwork (all done by abiding Lugubrum representative Midgaars, by the way), incomprehensible lyrics and overall musical whatthehellery that these Belgian crackpots showcase. Creatures with wieners growing out of their armpits? Check. Hardcore farming? Check. Lumpy gastronomy? Check. Hammered fish? Yep.

In short, Lugubrum could have literally anything up their sleeve, and I’m a guy who's extremely restrained in his use of the word literally.

 

THE PERFECT STRANGER YEARS

Lugubrum – An extremely brief early history:
• Barditus and a fellow named Zwelg form the band in 1992. Zwelg leaves almost immediately. Don’t worry, everyone, he’ll be back!
• Midgaars joins in 1993 and Lugubrum becomes yet another in a not-so long line of black metal duos that create music ideally suited for building homemade halberds in a derelict shed.
• Barditus takes on drumming and vocal duties, Midgaars takes care of absolutely everything else.

The first two records chronicle the rocky coexistence of midwestern American Larry Appleton and his distant cousin from eastern Mediterranean Europe, Balki Bartokomous.*

(*This statement is completely false. Presumably.)

 • • • • •


[1995] Winterstones

The most straight-forward Lugubrum album. Reeks to high Heaven of decay, particularly due to Barditus’s crumbling vocals. He sounds like an old witch gathering mushrooms for an enchanted stew. Most of the songs are strangely uplifting, despite the overall emphasis on a freezing atmosphere. If the thought of plodding, spluttering, misshapen black metal turns your stomach, Winterstones will be as welcome in your home as a bath salt addicted birthday party magician with a tickle fetish. For the rest of us, it's a withered delight.

Listen on a full or empty stomach while consuming a considerable jar of panther sweat.

Have a tipple: "Aardmannen"

 • • • • •


[1997] Gedachte & geheugen

Oh, yes. Yesssss. Lugubrum clearly decides their debut wasn’t nearly disagreeable enough. The first half of Gedachte & geheugen features 20 minutes of extremely loose, blistering black metal that pushes a guitar tone that feels like your face is getting hit with hot acid sprayed from a serpent's yap. Absolutely grim, thin and pickled in gin. The sort of discomfort that screams "TOTAL SUPPORT" in a snuggly NWN thread.

The second half of the record features 36 minutes of bedroom keyboard antics that could make Mortiis's nose point upward for a solid week. Or maybe he’d hate it, who the hell knows (nose). Regardless, the aft of Gedachte & geheugen is impish, plinky and Ren-Faire as balls, so abandon all hope, ye who enter here, unless you’re hoping to get a lap-dance from a jester high on orcish tar.

Have a tipple: N/A

 

WHEN TILLAGE BEGINS, OTHER ARTS FOLLOW

Goodbye witching life, hello Flemish Federation for Country Tourism in Flanders.

Barditus and Midgaars add a couple more toilers to the crew. Hello again, Zwelg! *waves politely* Agricultural hails, Svein!

With the new recruits freshly in line, the band begins a Belgian ruralite's life: Waking up before dawn, cracking teeth on hardtack, milking cows, chicken fondling, sloppen ‘em sows, and creaking out a tighter, weeeeirrrrrder brand of blistering metal that’s now fertilizingly referred to as “boersk blek metle” (farmer black metal.) Clearly, the malt and shine is increasing its macabre grip on our intrepid heroes’ hearts during this time period.

 • • • • •


[1999] De Totem

Quite often, the guitars on De Totem sound like bees asking where the closest sweetclover patch might be. When they’re not joyously humming and fizzing, they’re blasted out like an old weedwacker working its way through a heavy patch of Kentucky blue grass.

Barditus gives up drumming in favor of concentrating his efforts on sounding even more like ghoul who’s in the midst of getting tossed on his ear for pounding too much mulled wine down at the Twisted Tit Tavern.

“Ratteknaeghen” introduces bits of banjo, which will become exceedingly welcome in blek metle. The beauty is that Lugubrum know how to bend an instrument such as this to their will, so it sounds like black metal banjo, not black metal that features some banjo music. In other words, Ralph Stanley and the Looguh-Brooms this ain't. Well, “Reet Reel” might be.

“Beard of Disease” is one of the greatest songs Lugubrum has ever written.

Have a tipple: N/A

 • • • • •


[2001] Bruyne Troon

Damnit, Barditus left. Apparently he didn’t like the direction of the band, which is now a bit more… Hmmm… Thrashy? Sure, let’s go with that. Thrashier and trashier. Like a Kreator demo recorded nude in a blizzard.

Midgaars' vokills are less killy. Still works.

According to the band’s website, Barditus also had “a rough time controlling his alcohol abuse.” Translation: He needed to traipse even deeper into the woods to find his true Spirit Spirit – an alcoholic totem to act as guide and protector. Don’t worry, everyone, he’ll be back!

Svein takes on the name Juan Solo. Zwelg calls himself Booby Fat.

The title track begins with the sounds of a person taking a loose poop, and strangely enough, it fits. Not because things are shitty, but because this record is brown and swirling. Hey, everybody poops.

“Kleigerukt” is the hit, if you’re keeping score. It’s fast, it's slow, it's sour as wolverine milk. And it's also the only black metal song you’ll ever hear that works in an occasional moo. As in cow. As in a cow’s moo. Eat mor chikin.

Have a tipple: "Kleigerukt"

 • • • • •


[2002] Al Ghemist

Pound the trumpets! Sound the trollops! Barditus is back!

You know what was wrong with Bruyne Troon? Not much, to be honest. But it might've been too long. Things are more succinct again with Barditus back in the fold, and it’s strangely serious, too. Maybe too serious. Perhaps that’s all related. One of the more vicious Lugubrum records.

No Mosh, No Banjos, No Half-shirts, No Fun.


¡HELVETE!

Have a tipple: "Temptatie"

 • • • • •


[2004] De Vette Cuecken

Lugubrum turns up the weird again! I don’t know what a "cuecken" is, but it’s apparently fat. That's nice.

When the hell did Svein get so good at drumming? He was probably always good at drumming, but it becomes distinctly clear on De Vette Cuecken. In fact, everyone seems to have stepped up their game. Midgaars incorporates all sorts of odd guitar effects and gristly riffing into each tune, and the addition of Bhodidharma on the saxophone adds just the right amount of eccentricity to throw the true wolfs off the trail.

“I don the ghostly robe and crown
and charm the wriggling tar”

Have a tipple: "De Maeghere Cuecken"

 

ONE MAN'S WEIRD IS ANOTHER MAN'S BUTTERED BISCUIT

I like to think of Heilige Dwazen and its kissing cousin, De Ware Hond, as Lugubrum’s college years – that time in a person’s life when you’re still pretty rigid about your roots, but also quite willing to bust off the chains for some experimentation. Do a two-story beer bong while cranking Can’s Tago Mago without spilling a drop on your rare Vlad Tepes shirt, then eat an entire wedding cake and ask a cheerleader to give you a French Handshake using only her feet. I’m just trying to think outside the box, people.

 • • • • •


[2005] Heilige Dwazen

Hey, one guitarist and one bassist in a band is pretty good, but two guitarists and two bassists is even pretty gooder.

By this time, Lugubrum is no longer just flirting with weirdness, they’re splaying it right there on the picnic blanket and buttering its big, Betty Crocker biscuit, right in front of everyone!

Heilige Dwazen: Good weird, but perhaps not quite "two-story beer bong in a Vlad Tepes shirt" good. At least not just yet.

Have a tipple: "Holy Fools Embodied"

• • • • •


[2007] De Ware Hond

“Freeform and recorded live” is something you most often expect to hear of jazz musicians, no? Well, De Ware Hond is definitely Lugubrum’s jazziest, freeformiest record. As such, it is exploratory (duh), and at least part of the time is spent checking to see if you're actually still listening to the same song.

Barditus’ rotted vocals are loathsome and the most metal thing going on here – an omen of greasy things to come.

Have a tipple: "Movement I - Neerwaarste Hond"

 

YES, I'LL HAVE A YARD OF YOUR FINEST BATHTUB GIN

Ever wonder what it is about the grotesque that makes dogs want to eat it so badly? Probably, if you've ever seen ol' Rex re-wheerf down the freshly splatted vomit he just hurled like it was 3am poutine. I've watched a dog follow around a cat near a litter box like it was a four-legged soft-serve ice cream machine. Basically, if it's gross, a dog will probably eat it. That's one of life's simple certainties. My guess is that canines spend so much time eating sawdust & weasel marrow kibble dressed up in nice packaging, they need a SERIOUS contender when it comes time to really challenge their palate. You see, sentient creatures love challenging their palate. It makes us feel alive. It's the reason that kindly bald fellow on the Food Network goes around eating bull balls and goose hammer paté.

Anyway, in a certain light, I think Lugubrum's modern material from 2008-2015 might seem like hurl on the floorboards to someone who's completely unfamiliar with the band or extreme music in general. Maybe that's overly insulting, but try and look at it through ol' Rex's eyes. It's not throw-up, it's re-stewed stew with a bit of a hot 'n' sour bonus. That probably doesn't help matters much. Whatever. Point is, the next three Lugubrum albums are probably their most challenging. Or maybe they're the most accessible, I don't even fucking know anymore. They definitely represent some of my favorite outsider extreme metal music currently in existence, though. Those of us who love gobbling them down are very special creatures. Very sentient creatures. Sensual creatures, too. Sensually sentient, special creatures.

Too metal for wimps, not metal enough for warriors. Who cares. Arf arf.

• • • • •


[2008] Albino de Congo

Nothing gets the black metal collective more aroused than a good mystery. In this week’s episode, Jessica Fletcher (played by Angela Lansbury) is eyeballing clues to figure out whether or not Lugubrum actually made a trip to Africa to record their ninth album, the risky Albino de Congo. They did just that, according to the band, and beats the shit out of me if there's a good enough reason to fib about such a thing. Really, what better way to ensconce oneself in a musical interpretation of Belgium’s colonial expansion into the Congo Basin in the early 1900s than to actually go to Congo to record your album in 2008. That’s just whiz logic, folks.

In any event, the result of Lugubrum’s efforts is one of the more interesting albums to ever get hit with the black metal label. Once again, the music represented is "black metal" chiefly in spirit – wild, raw and thrilling – but it’s essentially Barditus’ howl that truly tacks the requisite bullet belt and panda paint to this slice of peckerwoodery. The man’s voice throughout Albino de Congo sounds like the Tasmanian Devil getting blown by a great white shark, and it’s cleverly wrapped around angular music that hairpins like drunk clown car. A special tip o’ the lid goes to the outstanding bass play of newcomer Noctiz, also of Paragon Impure.

Have a tipple: "Kadhurha"

• • • • •


[2011] Face Lion, Face Oignon

Let’s see… Goats, demons, chaos, burning churches, burning witches, burning leather, priest-crushing, nun-fondling, pro-cosmos, anti-cosmos, snow trudging, stream babbling, Hell bounding: What topic should we cover for our new extreme heavy metal album? I know! How about the 1799 French campaign in Syria? Napoléonic hails.

This record is playful, jazzy, fetid and riveting, probably like ol’ Bonaparte hisself. Gingerly poke a hand into your lapel and enjoy the snazzy kazoo at the onset of “Jaffa,” why don’t you.

Oh, you like it rough, mon frère? To “Mount Tabor” with you. Fair warning, the tour guide is a bearded psychiatric patient with a bee up his b-hole.

When was the last time you spun a record that highlights the mollifying sounds of an angry camel?

Blues riffing galore. Niet zwart metaal.

Have a tipple: "Acre I"

 • • • • •


[2015] Herval

The first thing one might notice about Herval is the fact that the band now refers to themselves as Lugubrum trio. Sadly, founding member and chief squawker Barditus has hung up his carrot tophat and now fronts the much more traditionally tattered black metal larrupers, Doodsdrek.(Alongside old friend, Svein.) Stepping back into the vocal spotlight is Midgaars' slightly less maniacal bark.

The second thing one might notice about Herval is the fact that it’s just as perfectly strange and prickly as the band’s last two records, but with the added bonus (?) of breezy wah-wah reggae touches, mon.

Wait, what?

It works. I know it sounds strange, but by now you simply must understand that this band makes alien invasions work to their advantage better than just about anyone. Plus, all the moments where the record charges at full speed still makes Herval as energetic and fun as a curved slide on a Caribbean Cruise while blitzed on pruno.

The first song is about hemorrhoids.

Have a tipple: "Herval"

 • • • • •

And there you have it. I just wrote a small novel about a band that probably gets less comprehensive press than Corey Taylor's bowel movements. That just seems wrong. Not because Corey Taylor's bowel movements aren't newsworthy, but because Lugubrum should be newsworthy. They should be bigger. More popular. More celebrated. Then again, I suppose adoration ain't exactly the point. The real point:

"You know," said Arthur, "it's at times like this, when I'm trapped in a Vogon airlock with a man from Betelgeuse, and about to die of asphyxiation in deep space that I really wish I'd listened to what my mother told me when I was young."

"Why, what did she tell you?"

"I don't know, I didn't listen."