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  • Writer's pictureSagan


BELPHEGOR - Totenritual (2017)

As a Carach Angren fan, it's hard to not be keeping tabs on keyboardist and orchestration mastermind Clemens "Ardek" Wijers' solo work. As well as working with other artists on various albums (Ex Deo, Pain, Lindemann, etc.) he is a prolific score composer and über-talented pianist.

Earlier this year, Wijers released a compilation of some of his work on a cassette tape called When Haunted Toys Come Alive At Night, but more recently, he graced us with a full-length record of personal solo pieces. Entitled Worlds, the album is an experiment in mashing his dramatic/epic composer side and his metal side. The result is a very cinematographic and interesting compilation of intricate orchestral and industrial-ish pieces that might please the least likely of ears. Are you intrigued yet?

This was a personal purchase that I didn't intend on reviewing originally, but after my copy of this album arrived and I had given it a full spin, I couldn't help myself.

The first piece, entitled "Take Off" is a soothing, uplifting instrumental piece that really catches the listener's attention. It's a very energizing and positive-sounding track. Does it set the tone for the rest of the album? Not quite, but that's not a bad thing in itself; allow me to elaborate.

This album has a certain amount of more classically cinematic type pieces as you would imagine. The songs "Dragging Her Back To The Graveyard One More Time" (what a title!) as well as the last two tracks, "Goodbye" and "Ending On A Positive Note" are calmer pieces, a soothing soundtrack. The album has a lot of different twists and turns, and it dives into other areas that Wijers has not really explored with Carach Angren but obviously has an affinity for. Worlds has a trove of gritty, industrial-leaning tracks that are definitely more reminiscent of his work on Lindemann's Skills In Pills than of anything he has done in Carach Angren. I think perhaps he enjoyed working with this different genre and felt inspired. Regardless of how it came to be, it resulted in pieces like "Berserk" which is absolutely and 100% a savage industrial track. It's an angry, noisy piece, it's also a "push-through" track perfect for tricking your jelly legs into thinking you're a Terminator and can definitely do 10 more reps. It's biomechanical; you feel in your bones, grinding and rattling your insides. And it is good!

The more industrial-leaning pieces on this album remind me a lot of some of the works of Graeme Revell — who has scored movies such as Spawn,Tank Girl, Planet Terror, and Sin City. On Worlds, Clemens Wijers puts out that dark intriguing energy that shines through metal gears and booming cogs - a deep, visceral, electric sound.

The song "Goth" is in the same vein as "Berserk", but in a smoother and slower-paced way, à la Antichrist Superstar-era Marilyn Manson. It did remind me of "Deformography" when I first heard it, but it's not all this song is. If you're no going to start feeling bad about your baby bat high school days, "Goth" is a fun vampire piece.

Surprise factor: there are lyrics on a few songs. Vocals sung by Clemens Wijers himself, which is relatively unheard of. It's always surprising to hear an artist who isn't normally on the mic putting their voice on display, and I have to admit that I was very surprised — dare I say maybe even shocked — especially by the song "I Am All", which has grown to be my favourite on the album after "Berserk".

How can I explain "I Am All"...? Imagine if a talking Triffid was a Disney Villain, and made its own theme song. Imagine if The Andromeda Strain was to manifest itself as a bouncy, jiggly human-sized space crooner. Imagine if Oogie Boogie, Dr Facilier and H.R. Giger's Alien merged into one cartoonish but menacing grotesque entity. Imagine — oh, just listen to the song! It has a trippy vaporous and almost Jodorowsky-esque vibe, and an over-the-top quality about it that makes it so memorable. Clemens Wijers' voice is absolutely villainous in all its theatrical glory. I was really taken aback by this song. It is quite unique!

As someone who highly appreciates well-scored movies and as a big fan of modern composers like Ramin Djawadi, Danny Elfman and Graeme Revell, I was thrilled with Worlds. It's a beautiful roller coaster of an album, and it really shows the talents of its composer. If you follow Clemens Wijers on social media, you've probably seen videos of him playing classical pieces, and in Carach Angren he is behind all the epic orchestrations and creepy little intricacies that puts the band a notch above any other act that might call themselves anything symphonic these days. To hear what the man with the ghostly keyboard composes when he is not within the band's haunting parameters is very interesting.

Worlds is a great record and even if it's "not metal", it's also not not metal. I firmly believe that many classical pieces are in fact very metal — if you're a bit of a snob when it comes to this theory, I strongly advise you give Sergei Prokofiev's Scythian Suite movement II or Tchaikovsky's Symphony no. 4's movement IV a shot. If you're not willing to go that far, try Wijers. I believe most people can appreciate classical in at least one of its many forms, and Clemens Wijers may be presenting it to a brand new audience in his personal work. If that still doesn't do it for you, Worlds has some wonderfully heavier material you can fall back on, so don't be afraid and explore Clemens Wijers' Worlds.



Release date: September 22, 2017

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