Lugubrum - Albino De Congo
Old Grey Hair
Avant-Garde Black Metal, Jazz
7 songs (38:21)
Release year: 2008
Lugubrum, Old Grey Hair
Reviewed by Goat

If you’re one of the unfortunate souls that has not yet crossed paths with this gang of Belgian miscreants, then consider this your lucky day. Lugubrum has existed in some murky underground since 1992, seemingly not just uninterested in the Metal mainstream but scarcely aware that it exists; like some race of mutants toiling deep, deep below the surface whilst the world grinds on above them. Albino De Congo is the eighth of a series of astonishingly weird albums, touching many different styles yet always anchored to the traditions of the genre. Describing the band’s sound is hard; imagine a Jazz quartet playing raw Black Metal and you’re partway there, but there’s so much going on at any one moment that it’s damn near impossible to pin it down. Where previous albums such as 2004’s De Vette Cuecken took a relatively purist route, 2007’s masterpiece De Ware Hond was akin to secretly watching a horde of forest-dwelling dwarves holding a Jazz festival – on acid - and Albino De Congo is, if possible, even stranger.

As you might guess from the title, there seems to be somewhat of an African theme here, although thankfully Lugubrum hasn’t gone all Soulfly on us. The subtlety is exceptional; any tribal elements included are woven into the songs’ heart and soul, and it’ll take a few listens before you even recognise that they’re present. Of course, the band’s signature analogue approach to recording helps; each and every instrument, including bass, is perfectly audible, yet there’s a warm, almost Bluesy tone to the instruments that is vastly different from the typical sub-Darkthrone rawness that Black Metal fans have come to accept as part of the package.

The songs, far from the fifteen-minute monsters of De Ware Hond, are quite restrained, with the longest tracks being just nine and seven minutes long. Lugubrum being the professional group that it is, you hardly notice; even the four-minute songs have more than enough twists and turns to keep anyone listening. As is fitting, however, it takes a few listens to unlock the complexities on offer; on your first attempt, don’t be surprised if it makes no sense at all.

Once you’ve gained access to the inner sanctum, however, there’s much to love. Barditus’ harsh vocals contrast well with the often rather gentle music, although in typical schizophrenic fashion heaviness is usually just around the corner. The ambient outro to Kurlerha Omugongo is a surprise, the following stripped-down Jazz-Rock of Isirhe even more so, developing into something as much Melvins as Mayhem.

It’s strange that the band chose relatively plain cover art after the blue-skinned midgets and seafaring monkeys of before; without an official explanation, it seems most likely that the cells depicted are referencing the albino of the album’s title. I can’t tell you whether it’s a concept album or not, or even what song titles such as Lugwampinga and Kabondobondo, Muborobondo mean – in the booklet, aside from a mysterious passage in French and the usual recording and line-up information, all we’re told is: ‘always your speakers nourish discomfort: ! and as damaged remember Lugubrum’. I couldn’t say it better myself; if you’re the type that likes their Black Metal skilful yet the wrong side of sane, remember Lugubrum and relish that discomfort.

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Album as a whole
Goat quoted 85 / 100
Other albums by Lugubrum that we have reviewed:
Lugubrum - Heilige Dwazen reviewed by Goat and quoted 90 / 100
Lugubrum - De Ware Hond reviewed by Goat and quoted 90 / 100
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