Hagl – In the Heart

hagl2There is something special or maybe a bit “off” about  Russian black metal bands that always sets them apart from the outside musical world. Yes… this is a good thing! This strain of uniqueness maybe makes it more difficult for fans of the genre to fully appreciate them, or perhaps it is simply a chore to investigate such a deep and though to discover underground arising from this fertile land. There are seemingly 2 predominant groups… the folk driven heathen bands (Kroda, etc) and the more traditional black side. Sure there are sub-genres and always a full bucket of NS bands to either enjoy or steer clear of, but no matter what category you clump the music into, you will hear right away a very unique accent cutting through barbarically screamed vocal lines. Bands like Old Wainds (older material) are the perfect example of this “cold” vocal sound and it can even be heard on Hagl’s 3rd full-length album, “In The Heart” for a nice break from the norm.

Hagl reside in the more melodic traditional black metal realm, benefiting from a full/professional production that allows the colorful harmonies and waves of melodic dissonance to swarm in a well considered storm of Dissection being crushed by the Iron Curtain. Add uplifting and subtle folk sensibilities found in the movement of the riffs (without becoming too fruity or unacceptably “happy”) provides a memorable foothold for a bulk of this material to stand on and take flight. Tracks like “Howl As A Wolf” explode with a sharp intensity yet never lose site of expertly paced dynamics via smart tempo shifts and fiery tremolo riffs that shift off into more emotive and full chords for more of a personal glimpse into the soul of this band. As mentioned earlier, the vocals raise the airwaves with a harsh wash of high end screams that add a sense of uneasiness to this otherwise strong and sensible musical statement. Swarm’s (vocalist and multi-instrumentalist) delivery is pretty straight forward as he never deviates from the driving and painful attack, but is a nice contrast up against the melodic nature of the music, filling in any holes that let the light in, with a cancerous determination to dwell within a dark solitude. Having said that, I was actually relived that there wasn’t any half assed attempts at clean singing to try and empower the mild folk elements that may dwell within the background via subtle synth embellishments and the lighter spirit in the riffs themselves.

In the Heart strikes me as a very mature album from a band that now has 3 full-lengths worth of material to refine their craft and realize what they want and need to be on a musical level. Granted, if you are scouring the Earth to find nothing but pure uniqueness still clinging to life in the black metal world, perhaps Hagl haven’t carved out enough of a purely creative voice just yet, BUT this album is incredibly solid and I found the riffs and songs to be rather inventive and full of conviction enough to make me want to keep this album in the listening rotation. -Marty

Casus Belli Musica


~ by martyworm on May 29, 2013.

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