Traanbaard contacted me to review the re-release of their 2015 EP ‘De Schaal Van Hardheid’. Of course we love to comply with that request. Traanbaard is an Amsterdam-based thrash/deathmetal band who distinquish themselves from other acts by having Dutch-only vocals. De Schaal Van Hardheid was the first EP by the band and after releasing their debut album ‘Doodziek’ they decided to update the artwork and release the EP again. Let’s give this redux album a listen.
Let’s talk about the artwork first. Traanbaard did a great job creating artwork fitting their music. Looking at the renewed album art it is more in line with the look of their website and merch. The geometric pattern in the skull is repeated in the distopian album art (check the images on their facebook). It adds to the eerie feel the band conveys on their website as well. They seem to have created their own font, which is written backwards and has some letters combined. It looks cool, it’s hard to actually read anything though. Even better than the current album art are the t-shirt designs the band did for the release of their debut album ‘Doodziek’. Dark, stylized images, and even thought the ant isn’t anatomically correct, it is probaby my favorite image.
De Schaal Van Hardheid
Back to the music though. Traanbaard defines itsself as death, thrash metal, but to me, they can add progressive to that list as well. The tracks are complex with varieying time signatures and harmonies I wouldn’t neccecarily expect for a thrash or death album.
De Schaal Van Hardheid starts with the opening track ‘Klokkenluiders’, a 6.29 min epic about ugly people ringing bells in the belltower. The vocals are in Dutch and almost like spoken-word layered stacato on top of the heavy riffs. I’m not sure I like the style for the verse parts, but I have to say that the more I listen to it, the more it seems to fit the track. The stacato vocals work really well for the break after the instrumental part. This song features a couple weird instrumental breaks that really make this song for me. A great track to open the album with and I can’t wait what else this band has to offer.
About the tracks
The next track Klaas Baas has some interesting riffs as well, but isn’t as complex as Klokkenluiders. More groovyness, more of the stacato vocals and again an interesting instrumental break. Hoort er Is is probably gonna be the crowdpleaser of this EP, as it is more up-tempo and has a good ‘moshpit-vibe’ to it. Being a bass-player myself, I have to applaud the band on the layering of three different riffs in the after-chorus part of this track. The instrumental break in the middle of the track feels a bit long to me though.
Schedelsteen starts of as the balad of the EP, but quickly changes to groovy, proggie goodness. At this point, I’m fully converted to the stacato vocals, and I begin to think this unique approach to vocals (at least, in Dutch, they are the only guys doing vocals like this) fits their style of music really well. This track has a bit of an Opeth sound, with the time signatures and the chord progressions, and might be my favorite track of this release (with Klokkenluiders being second).
The EP ends with Hoefnagel, and honestly, I’m not sure they should have put this track as the closer on this album. They could have ended with Schedelsteen, because the ending to that track is just a minute of low noise. Hoefnagel is more thrashy than the rest of the track, but the song seems to end in the middle of a riff. I imagine the band dragging out the ending of this track when playing it live, and just screaming the ending vocals together with the crowd, which would make the ending better.
De Schaal Van Hardheid is an interesting album to listen too, but it takes some getting used too. The first play-through I wasn’t conviced I liked the stacato vocals. But after three or four playthroughs the band has won me over. Schedelsteen is my favorite track, with Klokkenluiders being a close second, but that is also me being a progressive metal fan. People who expect to hear a death or thrash album will probably need to broaden their horizon a bit to enjoy this.
- Klaas Baas
- Hoort Er Is