HÄG — HÄG

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HÄG - HÄG cover
5.00 | 1 rating | 1 review
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Album · 2020

Filed under Doom Metal
By HÄG

Tracklist


1. Summon The Earth To Lay Claim Back The Soil (5:41)
2. Your Skin (6:00)
3. Funeral (5:46)
4. Slow Ghosts (4:48)
5. At The End Of The Ambush (5:39)
6. House Sparrow (5:00)
7. Ruins (5:37)
8. The Grim Sleepers (5:52)

Total Time 44:23

Line-up/Musicians


- Keith Harding / drums
- Adam Hefferman / guitar
- Clair Hipditch / vocals
- Josh Ward / bass
- Andrew Wicks / guitar

About this release

Released June 5, 2020

Produced by: HÄG

Drums recorded at Car Crash Studios, CBS, NL. Everything else recorded by HÄG in various dwellings.

Thanks to voila_la_scorie for the addition

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voila_la_scorie
Sometimes you just gotta have an album because it sounds so great. And sometimes you gotta have it because it already has you!

HÄG are a very new band from St. John’s, Newfoundland whose self-titled debut album, released barely two months ago, sounds more like a mature band playing at their zenith. From the first track, a classic Sabbath-esque doom metal riff crushes the speakers, and Clair Hipditch’s vocals arrest your ears. It’s easy right now to draw comparisons to Blood Ceremony. But don’t be so quick. Aside from the fact that HÄG doesn’t include any flute, there is plenty that separates these heavy rockers from The Rock from their celebrated compatriots in Ontario. Listen on!

First off, HÄG’s sound is modern. Blood Ceremony strive for a retro sound, not just style. HÄG are quite comfortable sounding like a classic doom band with modern gear. That is clear in track 1, “Summon the Earth to Lay Claim Back to the Soil”. There are also hints of progressive tinkering. If you love classic doom metal, this song alone should sell you on the album! But don’t be so quick! There’s more!

From Clair’s opening utterances of “Your Skin”, you’ll see HÄG show what direction the band is taking. If you’re familiar with the Swedish prog band White Willow, particularly their darker albums like “Sacrament”, “Storm Season”, and “Terminal Twilight” (my personal favourite!), you’ll understand that HÄG are not going to teach you about Wicca and Salem but rather haunt your mind with the paranormal and horror. Listen to the seemingly romantic lyrics: “Your hands on my hands / Your lips on my lips / Your face on my face / Your skin on my skin”. Now imagine that this is not a lovers’ moment behind closed curtains but: “I had a dream last night / I wore your skin like it was mine”. If they make a video for this it should be positively creepy! I love the heavy, unsettling mood in the music. There’s some clever use of synthesizer in one part to add to the psychological horror atmosphere and a terrific sparse moment with Clair’s vocals distant and calling from that doorway between reality and the Other World, before all thunder breaks out for the dramatic finale. A masterful piece of work!!

One thing that’s such a pleasure about this album is Clair Hipditch’s vocals. The closest comparison I can think of is Sylvia Skjellestad of White Willow. They both have an incredible talent for affecting mood and emotion in their voices. Clair can as easily sound as a woman who is a victim of her own desirous heart and an enchantress luring you with her voice and seductive power to the Dark Halls of Doom. If the young woman outside the Hotel California could sing to draw in weary travelers, she’d sound like Clair.

Track four, “Slow Ghosts” is a big surprise and I think a pleasant diversion from the haunt and doom of the album thus far. You’ll still get crushing chords and that feeling of sweet, alluring despair in the chorus, but the rest of the song is clean and atmospheric. You’re not likely to have ever heard of the band Pugs & Crows - an instrumental jazz fusion group from Vancouver - but the non-heavy parts remind me of their last album “Uncle!” which featured the exquisite vocals of Marin Patenaude. Again, great work on the vocal delivery by Clair!

“At the End of the Ambush” brings back the tense, heavy doom atmosphere. There’s a simple early-Floydian guitar solo backed with organ, and then a real lead guitar solo. Which makes me realize that, hey, there aren’t a lot of lead breaks on this album! I was so enthralled by the vocals and music that I didn’t miss the solos!

Next there’s “House Sparrow” which was released as a single. “I watched it die / I watched it die / Mother said I would be affected”. This song is a prime example of HÄG’s ability to marry the haunting with the crushing.

The final two tracks, “Ruins” and “The Grim Sleepers” may once again remind you of Blood Ceremony but darker (“Ruins”) and White Willow but heavier (“The Grim Sleepers”), but again HÄG prove to have already created a sound that is HÄG.

Eight tracks. And if at anytime you think that one track is not as thrilling as the previous ones, there will be a change that catches you off guard and immediately you rethink your assessment. An awesome riff appears when you don’t expect it; a touch of psychedelia slips in; the drums go off on a tension-building roll, a guitar solo, cool guitar sound, or another sweet touch of something colours the mood.

I’m a CD kind of guy. I don’t buy downloads. I will scour the Net for a hard copy before giving in the the empty handedness of downloads. But I simply had to buy the download of HÄG’s debut. There was no CD (though there is vinyl!). But I had to have it because after listening to the first five tracks on Bandcamp, the HÄG already had me...!

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