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Oft-lauded neofolk act Of the Wand & the Moon marginally lurks around the metal scene. This is likely to be because the man responsible for Of the Wand & the Moon, the bald-headed, bearded wonder Kim Larsen, has been in notorious metal acts such as Black Wreath, Saturnus and Blazing Eternity. Come to think of it though, a lot of metal acts seem to be into the whole neofolk trend, with bands citing acts such as Death in June, Current 93 and Sol Invictus as inspiration for some of their work. Regardless of how Of the Wand & the Moon found its way into the metal circle, “Hail, Hail, Hail”, Larsen's 2005 EP, is a far cry from metal, any way you look at it.
Being two tracks and slightly over seven minutes long, this release is over before you know it: and therein lies one of my problems with this. The first track, and title inspiration for this release, “Hail, Hail, Hail” and the second track “Benediction Malediction”, a Current 93 cover, seem like they were pulled from opposite ends of the earth. Mainly, there is no continuity between the tracks; there was nothing done to make these tracks flow together nicely. It's as if Kim Larsen had two extra tracks sitting around from two completely different recording sessions and said, “Hell, just toss together what I have left.”
Rather than the typical folk inspired guitars, minimalistic drumming and odd instrumentation that usually comes with Of the Wand & the Moon's music, this EP shows Larsen playing a somewhat different style. The first track, “Hail, Hail, Hail”, shows Larsen meddling with Egyptian and Middle Eastern drum rhythms behind a mellotron line, replete with whispered vocals. Musically, it sounds like Kamelot's introductions on “The Fourth Legacy” and “Karma”, although less “epic” and grandiose. The vocals are nothing more than a breathy whisper and lack emotion of any kind, as they just kind of exist.
Larsen's cover of “Benediction / Malediction is odd to say the least. A humming, droning buzz sits in the back of the track that sounds like some type of synthesized didgeridoo notes, coupled with breathy sluices of dissonant noise. Apparently there are four vocalists on this track, but it doesn't help, as all four people just talk quietly about cursing everything in sight. I've never had the privilege to listen to the original Current 93 version, but if it sounds anything like this version I'm not wasting my time. A pointless track and three minutes of my life I will never get back.
Honestly, the track “Hail, Hail, Hail” isn't terrible. I can see how an album fleshed out in a similar style could be trance inducing or a relaxing trip into oblivion, but one track at three minutes long fails to deliver. “Benediction / Malediction” is a useless track and exists only to exist. There are only two reasons to buy this EP: you are so observed with Kim Larsen that you need to own everything he's ever touched or you're a diehard Current 93 fan and need to have everything ever associated with them. Overall, a pointless release.