‘Waerachtighe beschryvinghe van drie seylagien, ter wereld noyt ghehoort’ is a nearly one-and-a-half-hour long journey through the icy regions of the Arctic. It is a double concept album that follows Dutch explorer Willem Barentsz (1550-1597) on his third and final voyage to find a north-eastern passage to Asia. It captures the longing and struggles of a mostly nameless crew, as they fight against the relentless forces of nature.
Willem Barentsz’ story is beautiful, yet tragic. Setting off in the Netherlands in the summer of 1596, Barentsz’ ship sailed towards the North and encountered fascinating, yet estranging islands, such as Svalbard and Bear Island. The crew, largely under the command of Jacob van Heemskerck (1567-1607), tried finding a way through the infamous Kara Sea, yet by August 1596, the sea was already completely frozen. This forced the crew to overwinter on the desolate island of Novaya Zemlya. Fighting against the freezing cold, the constant threat of polar bears and scurvy, Van Heemskerck’s men were constantly pushed to their very limits. It was a fight that proved fatal to Barentsz, who died in June 1597, just as the crew was heading back home.
Although the album is firmly rooted in mid-nineties black metal, it is an exercise in subtle experimentation; ‘Waerachtighe beschryvinghe…’ contains elements of audio theatre and neoclassical composition. Various voice actors take on the roles of key figures in the story, such as Jacob van Heemskerck, Petrus Plancius and Barentsz himself. Monologues and dialogues were exclusively written and recorded by the band themselves. The various Arctic and nautical soundscapes were recorded by the band as well, using field recording, sound design and foley techniques that are used in both classical and contemporary film.
The album was created with a strong sense of historical accuracy. Much of the lyrical content is based on literary sources, such as Rayner Unwin’s (1925-2000) ‘A winter away from home’. The album also contains fragments of Hendrik Tollens’ (1780-1856) ‘Tafereel van de overwintering der Hollanders op Nova Zembla’, a 39-page epic poem.
‘Waerachtighe beschryvinghe…’ was released on 2-CD by Blood Music in 2016 and included a 60-page booklet, containing English prose (translated by Blood Music) and lyrics written by Ruben Wijlacker. Artwork was done by contemporary artist Thomas Knopper. The album’s foreword was written by German Polar researcher Nikolas Sellheim.
‘Waerachtighe beschryvinghe…’ was added to the permanent collection of the Dutch National Library in The Hague in 2016, as a piece of historical literature.
‘The album is a very demanding listen and one has to pay attention to the many details, layers and nuances, but it is well worth investigating if one is in the mood for experimental metal music that transcends barriers.’