Duivel’s Heiligschennis is the Knockout EP We Need Right Now
The latest effort by the Dutch outfit Duivel, Heiligschennis, or “Sacrilege,” is pure black metal magic. Officially dropped via Snakepit Productions and Ván Records on June 15, Heiligschennis is hands down the best EP of the year, in my opinion. It’s unbelievably wild, insane, and intense while remaining artful, inventive, and wholly authentic.
Duivel is the brainchild of the highly accomplished Nachtraaf of Urfaust, Botulistum, ex-Fluisterwoud, and a long list of other bands. Urfaust is the first name that comes to mind when I think of Dutch black metal due to the quality and ingenuity of this duo. Similarly, Black Anvil stands out as NYC’s reigning black metal kings. Black Anvil and Urfaust actually consider themselves “brother bands,” as they shared the split Lo-Fi LowLive: Live in the Netherlands (2018), which was recorded during a tour that they both took part in. In fact, Black Anvil’s lead vocalist and bassist Paul Delaney is a member of Duivel.
Delaney laid down the bass for Heiligschennis in New York, while Nachtraaf handled guitars., ex-Fluisterwoud’s Lahar and D.R.E.P.’s Deportator each played drums on two compositions. Deportator furthermore mixed, mastered, and recorded the EP. Heiligschennis boasts four guest vocalists, who appear on different tracks. In the following order, we hear: Kombustar of D.R.E.P.; the “shamanic sorcerer” El Invunche of Invunche; Havoque of Heidenland and D.R.E.P.; and Botmuyl of Botulistum. Klavierendeler contributed the synths. The six-track EP features an intro and outro by Fír.
Given the overwhelming amount of talent involved, we just had to get to the bottom of how these stellar musicians came together. Thus, we reached out to the team with some questions. Nachtraaf kindly recounted the tale of Duivel’s genesis:
“The whole idea behind Duivel was to create some old-school black metal for nostalgia’s sake. I had a conversation with Deportator, who records Urfaust, about the ‘dire state’ of Dutch black metal. Most bands are not interesting to listen to for various reasons, so we were having the typical ‘grumpy old man yells at cloud’ conversation. We both grew up listening to black metal and were missing the feeling of these old-school bands, the ones who had an aggressive, but maybe even a kitschy bombastic feel…
Anyway, after having various of these conversations, we formed the plan to record something in the future… but since we both are busy with so many things, the plan never came to fruition!
Long story short, we had a recording session planned with Urfaust, but IX didn’t show up. Both Deportator and I were already down at the bunker and set everything up, so we thought: ‘Why not do it now?’
After these recordings with Deportator on drums and me on guitars, we listened back and were quite confident we should work on this… We discussed how and what we wanted to do, so I suggested that we let Paul Delany of Black Anvil do the bass, because he is a killer bassist with his own style, but also a very close good friend. Over the years, we talked about doing something together, so why not now?
I contacted Paul and he was instantly psyched, and within the shortest of times we got the tracks back with bass! PERFECT!
Paul and I go way back, so it was awesome to do this!
We asked another friend [Klavierendeler] to do the synths for Duivel, since he never really did something with bands or music, but he is a genius in my eyes and knows exactly the feeling we wanted to have, since he is a big fan of the genre as well.
As for a singer, we wanted to work with several notorious individuals from the Dutch scene, and they all did their magic on the tracks…
Pure satanic nostalgic black metal was the result.”
Now, let’s dig further into the grave matter of Heiligschennis. Brief as it is at just over 20 minutes, this offering crams is dense. Heiligschennis begins on a thoroughly disturbing note with atmospheric sounds, including what seems like the rickety wheels of a cart and church bells, suggesting a corpse in transport, as supported by the title, “Lijkenkar,” or roughly “Corpse-Cart.”
Heiligschennis then assaults you with its ridiculously charismatic energy on “Gedoemd tot dolen.” From there, the intensity only continues until Fír’s outro, “Kekrot,” sweeps in with its pleasantly subtle magnetic aura and winds of total death. The spontaneous, riveting, and utterly uncanny Heiligschennis never allows for even a mediocre moment. It keeps you hooked throughout; the killer riffs are bound to nail you in place and leave you feeling crucified. The pounding drums reflect equal mastery.
All the vocalists deliver over-the-top performances — again, true highlights of 2023. They achieve unfathomable levels of tortured madness. I doubt whether even the worst Russian mafiosos could elicit cries this inhuman from their captives. Yes, partially due to the vocals, Heiligschennis delivers maximum brutality and lovely rawness. The terrific production preserves the music’s dirtiness, character, and organic feel.
The wonderfully balanced Heiligschennis presents us with beautiful melodies that make its more depraved components seem even more outrageous. The intoxicating grooves are more seductive than Salome. This EP seems to provide one of the finest examples of synth usage in BM; the gorgeous, sometimes flute-like synths will charm you like a snake and add worlds of unexpected flavor. They often transport you to the scorching and exotic Golgotha and surrounding territories.
Although Klavierendeler’s work provides ear candy capable of conjuring your hedonistic vices, surprisingly, it never compromises the music’s bestial fierceness. There is nothing weak about any of the music’s more polished elements.
To state matters simply, in a music world where very little feels truly dangerous on more than a mere superficial level, Heiligschennis surpasses both its name and our sickest onanistic dreams. With titles like “Heksenkut,” or “Witch Cunt,” it’s easy to get sucked into this work of abysmal depth. From beginning to end, this orifice-dark offering pummels you with the maniacal vigor of a battering ram.
Heiligschennis offers precisely what you crave from black metal. However, it stands apart from all else as a completely original work. Ultimately, this nefarious opus proves shockingly refreshing and, yes, devilishly fun.
Artist Johan Prenger, who founded Reflections Records, is responsible for Heiligschennis’ cover painting. This provocative image depicts a nun with the severed head of Christ, adorned by his crown of thorns, between her spread legs. In the background, the bloodied cross suspending the rest of Christ’s body, along with the other two victims, can be seen. Like the music inside, this provocative piece of art turns out to be exactly what we need at the moment.