Akelei – Een Van Ons (Review)

Akelei - Een Van OnsThis is the latest EP from Akelei, a doom metal band from The Netherlands.

Although billed as an EP, and despite the fact that there’s only three tracks here, this is actually a 37-minute release – longer than some albums. This is the the band’s first release in 11 years, and I really hope they don’t leave it as long as that until the next one comes out, as this is exceptional.

The title track is a beautiful example of how resplendent and emotive doom can be. Piano, violin, and viola enhance the core of the music, while a guest vocalist adds her exquisite vocals to the lead singer’s smooth and charismatic voice. It’s a captivating song, rich in emotion and texture, and with a post-rock influence that allows it transcend the barriers of pure doom. Highly atmospheric, the music is very well-written and performed. Een Van Ons is simply a great song.

The following two tracks – Nabij and Hierna (Van Binnenuit) – were designed to flow from one to their other seamlessly, (despite being separate tracks), and they are joined by an ambient interlude at the end of Nabij. The promo I received has a one-track version of the entire EP included alongside the regular three-track version, which I assume might be available at some point.

Nabij has a more traditional doom metal feel, lacking the additional instruments of the title track, and making more immediate use of heavy guitar. It is still rich in emotive presence and immersive atmosphere though, and the songwriting once more is right up there with the best of them. Whereas the first song had some Anathema vibes, this one has more in common with a band like Warning or 40 Watt Sun, (although shades of Anathema can still be felt).

After the aforementioned ambient interlude at the end of Nabij, the closing song – Hierna (Van Binnenuit) – provides us with a luxurious doomscape of melancholy to see us on our way. The style of the song sits somewhere between the first and second tracks; it’s rich in atmosphere and has guest female vocals alongside the lead male ones, but is more rooted in doom metal and uses less component parts than the title track. Regardless, it’s gorgeous and luscious, and filled with feeling that seems to seep out of its very pores.

It’s another beautiful and affecting piece of atmospheric doom from Akelei. This deserves to be heard by far, far more people than it will probably reach, so make sure that you take the time to absorb everything that’s here.

Essential listening.

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