Wóddréa Mylenstede: Victors in the Loudness War


The war is over folks—and you and all your favorite bands with their brick-wall compression and clicky triggered drums and range-squashing plugins have been trounced. With their debut album Créda Beaducwealm, Wóddréa Mylenstede has come to lap up the blood of the slain and deliver all true believers to Loudness Everlasting.

Are you worthy?

Before pressing play on anything Wóddréa Mylenstede has ever recorded, I suggest you first turn the volume on your system/device/app of choice all the way down to ZERO and gradually, one cautious tick at a time, turn it back up. This will save you from having to replace your speakers, and more importantly it will save you the medical costs incurred by your skeleton actually jumping out of your skin. Imagine making love inside a quasar—or to a quasar. If you can’t, then you should give up now and limp back to whatever pansy-ass troupe of try-hards you call “loud”, because you are not ready for the manhandling your chi is about to receive at the behest of the deafening Wóddréa Mylenstede (henceforth WM).

Kidding, kidding. WM play lo-fi black metal and with cover art like that you should have known I was yanking your crank. They are not waging a war for loudness, rather against it. The production on Créda Beaducwealm is not more raw or lo-fi than any I’ve ever heard, but it is certainly on par with the worst of the worst. Rocking out to this album in any way is just not physically possible; if you were to attempt to bang or even just nod your head along, the throb of increased cranial bloodflow in your ears would drown out the beat. I doubt WM has ever come within 100 yards of a digital compressor. These guys have never—ever—cranked anything up to 11 in their lives. They’re not the first black metal band to record their album from the far end of a drainage pipe, and they will not be the last. But they do certainly pursue the lo-fi life as if they think there’s something more prestigious and tangible to be won than mere street cred.

I have no problem with atrocious production in general. It’s when bands take it to the level of seemingly un-self-aware parody that I start to get a little peeved. These days, it can be hard to tell if underground black metal bands really believe they’re delivering a solid product or if they’re just swept up in the misguided mystique of it all. But it was not always so. Let us step back ever-so-briefly into the annals of raw black metal history to see if we can’t pinpoint where it all went wrong.

First, Darkthrone. When Transylvanian Hunger (1994) came out, it landed as a powerful statement because there was room for a statement to be made. At the time, no one had sought to record a metal album on a four-track and release it unmastered—commercially. It is still debatable whether or not doing so is a great idea, but at least in Darkthrone’s heyday there weren’t an unmanageable number of black metal bands vying to one-up one another, so such an audacious and calculated move from one of the genre’s heavyweights was bound to make an impact. (If you haven’t heard Transylvanian Hunger, you can rectify this by firing up your coffee maker and shrieking into a wad of toilet paper over the gurgling and hissing coming from the pot.) On Transylvanian Hunger, tape hiss is a fifth instrument, and it overpowers all the others. I’m sure at the time of the recording Darkthrone were mostly serious about what they were doing. Now, with over twenty years of retrospect, and bearing in mind that Fenriz has a sense of humor about himself, it is easy to imagine how even he could cop to that album’s comedic aspect.

Regardless, fans took the album seriously. The Darkthrone fanboys playing in Ulver even went so far as to try to emulate this ludicrous rawness with their third album, Nattens Madrigal (1997)—with some very peculiar results. Not only are the (probably false) rumors that Nattens was recorded in a cabin in the woods believable, but the whole recording sounds as if it were intentionally sped up a notch or two, lending the rawness a truly deranged bent. It has been implied by involved parties that Nattens was a sardonic response to Century Media‘s desire for Ulver to release something similar to Bergtatt but “more gothic”. Being the jesters that they are, the band sent in the blisteringly harsh and borderline unlistenable Nattens Madrigal instead: essentially a middle finger to the label’s attempt to mold the band into something more commercially viable (“gothic” things were all the rage at the time). The major surprise here is that when you strip back the album’s bizarre production tricks, what you have is a batch of good-to-excellent songs. They bring the riffs, and bring them like a squall of teeth and nails. It is for this reason that Nattens has outlived the mystery and scandal surrounding it’s unconventionally and inadvisably raw production.

Given Ulver’s volition in releasing such an absurdity, and their label’s willingness to put it out despite their requests for a much different product, a question is raised: To what degree is parody damaging to art, and what responsibility do cheeky bands and apparently oblivious record labels bear for releasing utter bullshit under the guise of “the most extreme album you’ve ever heard”?

We’ve come a long way since then, and today the number of embarrassingly earnest purveyors of lowest-fi black metal stretches nigh infinity. Which brings us back to Wóddréa Mylenstede. Imagine trying to listen to Transylvanian Hunger with a hair dryer set on high and aimed directly at your face. Or imagine taking your buddy’s demo tape and trying to dub it to another tape that already has music on it, causing the two recordings to bleed and blur together. Créda Beaducwealm (not a demo) sounds like your thirteen-year-old neighbor’s clunky black metal band rehearsing in an apartment three floors above: sometimes you can just make out the faintest whiff of a song, or maybe just a riff; at others it just sounds like the drummer hitting things while everyone else tunes up. You actually have to adjust your ears over several minutes in order to learn how to hear whatever it is WM is presumably doing. From what little I am able to make out, it sounds as if they play a kind of blackened death rock: dreary guitar leads draped over motorik percussion, the vocals howled instead of crooned. There are some vaguely discernible loping blastbeats, but mostly the drums just plod along lifelessly. And you know that crackly noise your guitar amp makes for a split second when you first plug in? That screechity-scratchity sound that drives your cat to eat its children? Yeah, that noise is front and center here like a protracted cultish flatulence. Draped in the obligatory obscurity, the band themselves give us no choice but to assume they are dead serious when they present this to us and ask for our most grim approval. For certain there are numerous twisted connoisseurs of awfulness out there who will gobble this up and thirst for more. That’s fine, of course. As long as they can understand and accept why anyone else (even a fan of Black Cilice) would put on Créda Beaducwealm and just laugh.

This says Wóddréa Mylenstede

This says Wóddréa Mylenstede

To restate: I have no doubt that Darkthrone and Ulver were fully aware of the degree to which they were goofing on the recording industry and the genre of black metal as a whole when they did what they did. But somewhere along the way the point of these bold artistic statements became lost in the Extremity War, with the face-palming result that so many eager-to-displease bands in the black metal underground—in collusion with their boutique labels—don’t seem to see the folly in emulating parody with sincerity; they don’t seem to perceive how artistically bankrupt it is to release an album which their prospective audience will need to pull a muscle trying to hear, just to be cool.

The loudness war is bullshit: corporate greed driving homogeny, pandering to a desensitized public. And the lo-fi war is bullshit too. It is the other side of the same coin: bands and labels scrambling to out-cult one another by hiding an abysmal dearth of creativity or even basic song ideas beneath stratospheres of tape hiss and distorted tomfuckery. By now there ought to be a friggin’ Transylvanian Hunger Plugin for young black metal bands to use so they don’t have to bother figuring out how to recreate that classic analogue hiss themselves.

The short version: I like it lo-fi, but I have my limits, man.

0 out of 5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell


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  • I <3 u Richter.

  • Lacertilian

    Well, I’ve just realised that I actually listen to Translivanian Hunger every single morning.
    This changes everything…

    • Hans Müller


  • Maybe we should have a discussion on when Lo-fi recording does help the music? I’ll start:


    • Dubbbz

      Darkspace >>>

      I also think it works well for some doom and death metal bands going for a very cavernous sound. Recent examples would be Qrixkuor and Hipoxia.

      • I also realized what I consider raw and what other people consider raw isn’t really the same anymore. I always though Darkthrone and Ulver had decent production

        • Hans Müller

          I think Funeral Moon sounds more lo-fi than Transilvanian Hunger. Both took some years before I could tolerate and eventually like the sound, probably partly due to having heard way worse things in the meantime.

    • Abradolf Lincler

      i have a lot of problems with 1’s production. their worst album.

      • okay

        • Abradolf Lincler

          compare I with III I

          • Abradolf Lincler

            essentially its the same album with manageable production

      • Dubbbz


      • CyberneticOrganism

        I love the part that goes FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF

        • No -bbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbb-?

          That’s a paddlin’!

          – Lonk, from Pennsylvania

          • CyberneticOrganism

            There’s a distinct lack of burbling

          • Abradolf Lincler

            i think we are the only people appreciating the burbling.

          • CyberneticOrganism


    • Hubert
    • CyberneticOrganism
    • Hans Müller
      • Edward/Breegrodamus™

        This is that good shit.

    • Janitor Jim Duggan

      In my opinion lo fi doesn’t help music because people don’t know how to do it right anymore. Suicide knew how to do lo fi, stripped down music right. Now it’s just a crutch used to defend poorly recorded albums.

  • listen closely and you’ll hear that “Léafa Súslbana” is actually a cover of Queen’s “We Will Rock You”

    • DoYouThinkHeSaurus

      Those… (•_•) / ( •_•)>⌐■-■ / (⌐■_■) … clever girls

    • They achieved this by kicking their can all over the place (the recorder was in the can)

  • Celtic Frosty

    Hahahaha this is amazing

  • Abradolf Lincler

    awesome job, o’ armless one. putting this on my shit to listen to list for tonight

  • I just don’t get lo-fi. I guess if you’re making music for the sake of “art” and not “listenable to consumers and generally enjoyable” then it makes sense. In a highly sophisticated technological world where decent-to-excellent music can be made without investing a large sum of money into expensive equipment I just don’t understand why you wouldn’t take advantage of that.

    • u will nvr b kvlt like us >:(

    • Abradolf Lincler

      it is probably a little column a, little column b

      for my part, lo-fi has some limits but the idea is a more natural sound

    • frozengoatsheadupanunsarse

      Listenable to consumers and generally enjoyable are pretty relative things of course. I think there are limits, and unless the intent is to make black noise bands should try to make sure that riffs, structures, vocals etc. are pretty discernable. But done right, I love lo fi for its unusual vibes.

    • Joaquin Stick

      I’m with you. It’s not for me. I am glad it’s out there and people like it, but I don’t get the superiority complex that goes with it.

      • Dubbbz

        It kind of makes sense though for it to be a cause of elitism. “I listen to stuff other folks think is too extreme.” Or so I imagine the argument going.

        • Abradolf Lincler

          All I hear is a bunch of poser talk

        • Joaquin Stick

          I can see that. I just personally don’t understand it. I’ll just watch the pissing contest from afar and laugh.

          • Joaquin Stick

            I was trying to come up with an analogous situation and finally got one. It’s like the “car guy’s” paradox. The car guy spends years making his car super cool, with all the add-ons that make it faster and louder and shinier, but with every step, 99% of people will think he’s more of a tool.

    • Rob M

      Speaking for myself, its because, with certain genres, it just dosnt sound right. I cant stand clean production on black metal and the only time I find it appropriate for death metal is for melodeath and techdeath bands…otherwise I think it kills the mood the music is trying to create.

    • Owlswald

      This is a whole lotta nope for me as well.

    • Janitor Jim Duggan

      I agree. Lo fi music isn’t enjoyable to me.

    • I despise lo-fi. I think we’re past the point of its edgyness. Hire a professional god damnit!

  • – “…as if they think there’s something more prestigious and tangible to be won than mere street cred.”
    – “…really believe they’re delivering a solid product or if they’re just swept up in the misguided mystique of it all.”
    – “…to release an album which their prospective audience will need to pull a muscle trying to hear, just to be cool.”

    take away the theme of music, and one could safely apply these descriptors to hipsters. (accidental rhyme!)

    • same shit, different genre.

    • CyberneticOrganism

      Black metal hipsters are our misfortune.

      • Count_Breznak

        And the vinyl industrie’s messiahs. Im tempted to sell pieces of my kitchen floor as the new raw underground shit.

    • Hans Müller

      Get outta here with your near-rhymes. We want that clean shit.

  • CyberneticOrganism

    Well said in that last paragraph, Richter. The “cavernous” production can be cool when done well, but at a certain point it just becomes audio mush.

    Also, the rare FLUSHED rating!

    • Lacertilian

      I think there’s a distinct difference between cavernous production and just general lo-fi, though.
      To me, lo-fi usually comes across really tinny and small.
      And yes, love seeing that big ol’ FLUSHED splashed across them there dunnies.

      • CyberneticOrganism

        True, I think we should have a sliding scale to determine this. I’ll get right on it.

  • Stanley

    “Richter, will you marry me? I was just going to say this, but I scrolled through the comments first, and saw that you already have a not so secret admirersat the bottom. My heart is broken.

  • Dubbbz

    Richter, I really enjoy your writing. Please never stop.

  • Hubert

    Great review dude.

  • sweetooth0

    eh, this isn’t bad. I listen to way too much raw ass black metal, so the production is nothing new here (check pretty much everything put out by LLN), mostly the music just isn’t that captivating. I’ll stick with Black Cilice for my wind tunnel black metal.

    • Abradolf Lincler

      LLN >>>>>>

    • They forgot to write good tunes, though.

      • sweetooth0

        these guys? yeah I agree. Not that captivating.

  • This is wonderful review. Thanks for sharing man.

    Also, Ulver and Darkthrone>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

  • Elegant Gazing Globe

    I like what sounds good

  • Hans Müller

    This reminds me I still have about 60 songs to go from that 24h playlist… between the sheer lolbuttz and the hour-long harsh noise jams, you get stuff that is much in this vein.
    Mind you, the skip button is used frequently, but damnit, I’m going to make it through.

  • Owlswald

    “These days, it can be hard to tell if underground black metal bands really believe they’re delivering a solid product or if they’re just swept up in the misguided mystique of it all.” <—– THIS.

  • Abradolf Lincler

    Man in the hate in here is strong today

    • quit pretending u liek this

      • Abradolf Lincler

        Pretty obvious my comment below will tell you that I haven’t listened to it yet

  • Cowboy Dick

    Well dip my balls in sweet cream and squat me in a kitchen full of kittens. I reckon.

  • Waynecro

    Awesome article, Richter! As a bit of a tech-death nerd, I usually prefer the kind of pristine production most Toileteers dislike; however, I can (and regularly do) jam lo-fi stuff that sounds like meth-spun wild animals having a trashcan fight in front of an industrial fan as long as the songs are good. To me, good songs are much more important than production quality.

  • frozengoatsheadupanunsarse

    Great writing as ever Richter! I may enjoy listening to this silliness later…

  • Great review, Richter! Well argued, well composed, very enjoyable to read- and I won’t be bothering with this album, thank you very much.

  • Max

    Well, I would assume in the case of Darkthrone at least, that it was an emulation of Hellhammer and the first Bathory record, which were both pretty raw, if unintentionally. And it’s not like some of the earliest grindcore/death metal progenitors (see Reek of Putrefaction) were any slouches, either.

  • Señor Jefe El Rosa

    Lo-fi is a fickle mistress, She can treat you right at times, but other times she leaves you at the bottom of a well all alone with your playskool cassette recorder.

    • She left me at the bottom of a well with a sex doll. : /

      • Señor Jefe El Rosa


      • that may be the first time i’ve been called a “sex doll”, but it surely won’t be the last