‘De Republiek Der Zeven Verenigde Nederlanden’ (which translates to ‘The Republic of the Seven United Netherlands’) was a confederation that existed from 1588 to 1795 and covered most of what is currently known as The Netherlands. They met their demise when the French invaded in 1792-1795, but in the glorious decades of its existence the republic had established their role as a dominant world trader, great military fleet and a hotspot for art, law and science. Despite its welfare, under the influence of the catholic church literacy was low and bribes or paying off sins by the rich was all too common. As a consequence, the country swiftly responded to the rise of the protestant movement, causing a shift in religion and literacy among the people. But what if the Catholic church had never had that foothold?
On that premise, the Dutch band Perfide wrote their concept album ‘De Republiek Der Zeven Verenigde Nederlanden’. The lyrics are based on an accurate time setting and happenings during the time of the republic, but from the perspective that the republic was satanic with all the accompanying rituals. For this, they have combined true stories and sagas and given them their own twist in the lyrics. That by itself makes the band quite unique, but delving into the music, that is far from the only thing that sets the band apart.
At the very core, Perfide is a Black Metal band that heavily relies on old school Norwegian Black Metal. Think of riffs mostly in the vein of Mayhem’s ‘Deathcrush’ and a bit of ‘De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas’ mixed with early Darkthrone and hints of the oldest Satyricon material. While those influences may suggest a very distinct traditional sound, the resulting material on ‘De Republiek Der Zeven Verenigde Nederlanden’ is far from that. What makes the music of Perfide atypical is the incorporation of a bass-centred writing style that revolves around sections with prominent bass riffs and minimal atonal guitar riffs combined with creative contrarian drum patterns that are interspersed with the more classical Black Metal sections. To complement this, the excellent hissing, rasping and groaning vocals convey the story of the republic with passion and dedication. The result is far from standard, but that makes the album all the more interesting. In a certain way it reminds me musically of ‘Ordo Ad Chao’ by Mayhem, an album that breathes old Norwegian Black Metal but is far from conventional in its approach.
The album consists of ten tracks that together tell the story of the republic, of which ‘De Eerste VOC Reis’, ‘Delfshaven 1628’, ‘Staten-Generaal der Nederlanden’ and ‘Schuttersgilde’ list among my favourites. The final two songs were originally released on the band’s 2019 demo, but for the album release the vocals were re-recorded by the current vocalist, and a second layer of guitars was added in addition to mastering courtesy of Herjann (Heidens Hart). Music-wise, hints of the quirky approach to Black Metal can already be noticed, but the band seems to be searching still for their identity. Regardless, the songs fit seamlessly both in terms of theme and music.
Two friends of the band lost their lives in the years leading up to the album. Thus, the album has been dedicated to lost comrades Pim Voormeulen, a regular at the Baroeg venue in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, and close friend Nick Gorkink who is immortalized on ‘De Republiek Der Zeven Verenigde Nederlanden’ as a major part of the storyline in the song ‘Staten-Generaal der Nederlanden’. I’m sure they would have been proud, as Perfide delivers a very interesting debut record, one definitely worth diving into for those that Black Metal that is a little bit. The album has been released on cassette and vinyl by Zwaertgevegt in a limitation of 100 copies each, so if you want to support band and label, don’t hesitate!