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Spectres poised in black shadows. - 78%

GrizzlyButts, September 18th, 2019
Written based on this version: 2019, Digital, Iron Bonehead Productions (Bandcamp)

Fables of the horned one’s macabre misanthropy set within the unconquerable darkness of the night only compound bravery amidst irrational superstitions of the supernatural; So much so that any tightly-bonded culture’d hold tighter to the chest that ingrained (if not necessary) fear enough to mold fantastical hero from fools who’re slightly less frightened of their own shadow in the moonlight. Anthropomorphize a rock, a crooked ancient tree, or a caved in well full of bones all you’d like… it is the demon, the stalker, the predator in the dark that is the most spiritual connection to our ancestral ooze by way of fear of the unknown and the flight from it. Pre-dating their studious embroilment in the occult arts by way of Kringa, yet not alight in full-robed devotion to conjuration of ancient evil until 2016, Hagzissa formed to speak the irrational unspoken edges of darkness that distort the mind– Apparitions and jagged horrors fill their debut full-length, ‘They Ride Along’, driven by ghastly winds and ritualistic atmosphere that’d translate into momentary self-abandon at the pace of blood whipping through the panicked heart of hunted prey.

The cry of guitar feedback that sparks Hagzissa‘s entrance should be a brief moment of familiarity for the select few who’d either laid their hands upon the bands 2017 demo or if an earlier indoctrination with Kringa (well, ‘Feast Upon the Gleam‘ came out two days prior…) had made lucid that screaming guitar hat trick. It only benefits Hagzissa that B. Moser carries a particular ancient sensibility when spearheading a black metal project; A great deal of petrified pre-second wave black metal traditions have long bled out into the lost corners of the world and count the far northern Austrian town of Linz as the portal from which this quartet would arrive. Primitive black metallic rhythms extended into psychedelic intensity a la early Culte Des Ghoules, Veiled (Germany), as well as the more extreme rock spectrum explored by a band like Hexenbrett today each provide a stroke of what accumulates within Hagzissa‘s debut album that’d deem it special. Loose guidelines to be sure but, a mid-to-fast paced rock rhythm section is the distinguishing factor and general driver of notable rhythm within. For my death metal attuned ears the equivalent level of atmosphere and rhythm would be a record like Stench‘s ‘Venture’ but wearing Master’s Hammer‘s early-to-mid 90’s skin.

‘They Ride Along’ might be the fastest spinning 41 minute unorthodox black metal record I’ve picked up all year. The flow from song to song is natural enough that it almost appears as a stroke of luck that the rhythm guitars would lay together so easily but not bind into one soupy mess of variations on a theme as the album progresses. What distinguishes one song from another is typically rooted in pace changes, twisted intro riffs, and particularly varied vocal performances from B. Moser‘s generally non-traditional melodies. On a subconscious level the only detractor that’d likely offend the average black metal listener could be the punkish mid-paced attack that Hagzissa had generally obscured within their distant and fuzzed-over demo a few years back; A record so driven by rhythm doesn’t for a second appear self-conscious of that raw, high impact approach and for sure there is no sacrifice to complexity or fluidity when it comes to such high energy freakery.

I was immediately drawn to this sound and particularly to the feral nature of the vocal performances alongside the frantic almost noise-rocked guitar performances; I suppose it was slightly confounding to find a member of Whiskey Ritual was involved at first but ultimately if you take the finest strengths of Kringa and Whiskey Ritual then temper the occultism and drug addled excess with ancient horror Hagzissa suddenly makes all the right sense. Without any of that context ‘They Ride Along’ is still a twisted and enjoyably rhythmic black metal record worthy of many spins. Moderately high recommendation. For preview purposes I’d suggest “Irrsinnsdimensionen (A Bath Amidst the Wells)” for a general idea of where Hagzissa go on this record and then “Moonshine Glance (An Iron Seed in Sour Soil)” to get an idea of how the early tracklist flows together.


The black path - 80%

Cosmic Mystery, August 25th, 2019

The arcane winds of old black metal blow furiously through all seasons it seems. Hagzissa graces the blackest paths of the underground with their first-full recording titled, They Ride Along. I don't know much about the band but they definitely know how to invoke the incense of ancient roughneck ritualistic black metal. This one went through multiple spins because its a blasted awesome release for a debut. Permeating is a good sense of aggression matched with a radiating glare of obscurity and devilment. Occult by philosophy and rugged by musical technique, Hagzissa has dipped their heads in a deep well of disaster and mystique in unholy self-baptism. They lay within the wisdom of first wave black metal while giving the finger to the spiritually naive with their thrashing and punky approach to the ritual. Undoubtedly one of the best records played within the ceremonial mist of the ancients. Going balls-out with a wapping 40 minutes to clarify any misconceptions you may have had about their music, Hagzissa instill a definitive sense of anger and pandemonium when playing the rites of their black mass. March to the sordid hymns of spiritual captivity and be drawn in by the trancing shore. They Ride Along is sure to meet your demand for occult first wave black metal if you attend Hagzissa's sermon.

As someone often seeking records that use a primitive approach, I was more than pleased to see this show up. For many 'primitive' is often mistaken for mediocre and yes I would agree with some statements pointing to bands hiding under the 'primitive'/'organic' moniker as an excuse for their beyond pathetic attempts at making music. However, to achieve a stripped-down feel does not mean conforming to mediocrity, rather, taking your instrumental proficiencies for a ride without training wheels aka 'pro tools' gives the listener a sense of sincerity;a priceless property that cannot be faked. No drum triggers on here, no cheesy choruses, only heavy fucking black metal executed with care for the catastrophe. Stapled deep with thrashing hostility comes They Ride On; striking the match with 'Die Pforte (A Speech Above the Moor)', Hagzissa's blaze across the prestigious black metal spectrum had begun; the discomforting, sudden shifts in harmonies and overlays of fiery guitar licks, sweep cleanly through to the final track. Proceeding onward to 'Moonshine Glance (An Iron Seed in Our Sour Soil)' and 'Searing Effigy', the feeling Hagzissa had been building towards their best often came as thought due to the thrills they offer. The songs prior were good but seemed to be hinting towards better installations to follow. That is precisely what happened; with 'Moonshine Glance (An Iron Seed in Our Soil)' leading the way and setting the stage for tracks like ;'They Ride Along on Howling Winds' and 'The Nightshade Wilderness'; tracing the inscriptions thus accomplishing adhesive harmonies and transitions that would become dominant qualities of Hagzissa's debut forward-on.

For a 40 minute journey of witchery, the music does not appear to be a cluster-fuck of mashed together sessions; contrary to such, they emanate a cohesion of sorts, that in turn makes for an intimate experience when listening. The sagacity of Hagzissa emits with every song; in fetching the task of keeping the music within the confines of black metal glamour and recondite; the mechanism put to the test has emerged with admissible results while submitting before the truths of the genre. And while many may be trying to take advantage of this latest reemergence of classic black metal, you will in time see through the disguises of those not fully committed to the yore of nights long gone. This conclave of musicians guided by the hand of darkness have done a great favor to the underground and black metal in particular; with post-this and post-that and all the other shit trying to quell the mighty spirit of black metal, it’s good to see some are still in attendance to the lure. Along They Ride is a disciplined craft fit for the ears of those who prefer the genre in its original state.

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