Have you ever got too familiar to the sound of your alarm so that it cannot wake you up any more? I’ve been spending my winter in a sonic hibernation, where familiar soundscapes could not move me. The awakening has come with spring and the third album by Belgians Onmens.
Describing ‘Doopgrond’ in three words would be ‘rave’, ‘anger’ and ‘sex’. Dark, punishing industrial electronics with the hints of EBM and Belgian New Beat are mixed with noise-rock guitar solos and bipolar lyrics (no offence to those suffering from the disorder nor to Onmens). Hard to imagine? Indeed, the duo (Kasper – guitar and beats, Bert – vocals) are difficult to pigeonhole. The album comprises of 13 songs and lasts just over 40 min. In these 40 min one will find tracks that can easily be played in Ghent’s favourite electronic music venue Kompass (‘Royal’ was premiered at a Rimbu event in February) as well as riffs that should please the sonic palette of metalheads.
Aggression and catchy melodies collide on this genre-busting album. Feelings flow from one to another in an airplane turbulence fashion. Actually, I’m on a plane experiencing one while writing this. ‘Doopgrond’ is a perfect soundtrack. ‘Ode’ makes the turbulence not to seem like the end of the road. Just as a lyric poem devoted to praise someone, ‘Ode’ is uplifting and triumphant. A pop-leaning chorus convinces us to ‘keep smiling’ and ‘keep fighting’ without sounding cheesy.
photo: Michael Roemers
The album is defined by expansive vocal ranges of Bert. Powerfully raw screams are interspersed with venomous singing that cannot conceal odd romanticism. There’s quite a bit of swearing too. But shouting ‘fuck’, ‘motherfucker’ or ‘bullshit’ doesn’t make Onmens extreme. It reflects our times and if one feels like ‘fuck my life’, then why not turning it into a livid poetry? A round of applause also goes to the impeccable post-production. I can’t help but wonder how ‘Doopgrond’ translates live... Those residing in Belgium should not take my word for it and see for themselves – 20th of April at Kolonie, Ghent!
Finally, I have to say (don’t crucify me) that not all the songs are equally strong. Onmens would benefit from a storytelling approach to allow ideas to take hold. It's not an 'easy' album to comprehend and it took me more than 3 goes to truly make friends with it... While listening to ’Doopgrond’ for the N time, I inevitably end up wondering who the people behind the moniker are. If Kasper and Bert are like their music, they must be some madmen (in the most admirable sense of the word). For that ‘Doopgrond’ is drooling with raw energy, full moon howls and rave beats!.. and while I am not entirely sure what the ideal audience for Onmens is, my hope is that ‘Doopgrond’ will cross Belgian borders and find a well-deserved place in the global ‘market’ of adventurous music.
Release date: 20th of April, Consouling Sounds/Lip Service (LS003)