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HAGL: "Nearer to Victory" - 60%

skaven, November 20th, 2011

Nearer to Victory, being Hagl’s debut that was already recorded five years ago and not until now seeing the light of the day via Casus Belli Musica, provides some authentic and epic black metal - with occasional flirts with thrash riffage - in the form of a 25-minute whole that most certainly keeps the listener’s attention throughout.

Musically, there’s surprisingly many ideas packed into this short record, and Hagl, still being a 2-piece band at that time, executes them with frenetic energy. It is not until the fourth song ”Pure Crystal of Cognition” when the pace slows down to a Bilskirnir esque atmospheric wandering with hints of melancholy - otherwise the tempo is kept at a higher level and this is very fine considering the short running time that allows Hagl to be as fierce as it wants with no proper breaks. ”Hail, Father Lucifer!” provides some very sweet, epic riffs and an interesting breakdown, hence belonging to the standout moments on the album.

My main complaint goes to the sound department: the compositions could work better if they had a thicker production behind them, especially the drums that are a bit too airy sounding. Also, the singer’s screams, high-pitched in the rather usual black metal standard, have a distortion effect on them which makes it sound inconveniently unnatural. It is to be remembered, though, that we are in fact dealing with a 5-year-old record and samples from the upcoming album tell that the glitches that are still present on this album have been fixed.

Nonetheless, Nearer to Victory is a worthy investment for those who like to hear some sonorous melodies in their black metal and are not looking for anything excessively new - though Hagl does seem to have their own sound going on, that’s for sure. This one makes my expectations towards the second album pretty high.

3 / 5
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