Monday, February 10, 2014

…death is not a fearful thing: HAAST’S EAGLED – ‘Haast’s Eagled’

Released toward the end of 2013, Haast’s Eagled’s self-titled debut is one of the most refreshing and somber albums in recent memory to come down the pike. Aided by an impenetrably thick, yet crystalline production job ‘Haast’s Eagled’ is a sweeping, atmospheric journey that is epic in scope due to the band’s success in combining loud and quiet dynamics to optimal effect. With only four tracks and a runtime reaching toward the forty minute mark the band has plenty of time, within each individual tune, to engage the listener by intertwining subtle instrumental nuances—most notably delicate, acoustic passages—amongst a barrage of heavy and hypnotic riffs. Add to this formula the occasional use of growled vocals, incidentally some of the most tasteful and successful to grace a doom album in the traditional vein, resulting in an extremely well-crafted and mature debut.

Opening strongly with “The Viking”, Haast’s Eagled immediately displays an aptitude for establishing a subdued, melancholy mood by utilizing a progressive, slow-build burn consisting of crackling needle on vinyl, distant rolls of thunder, and gentle piano and bass. Though the song’s intro is brief, it effectively sets the tone for the duration of the album. At the minute-and-a-half mark the bottom falls out and the guitars, drums, and bass come crashing in and immediately settle into a mid-paced groove. Both growled and clean vocals are used to establish a dichotomy within the song wavering between primitive barbarism and an emotive placidity.

The second track, “The Eye of God”, arises from the ashes of “The Viking’s” fading feedback. Beginning with Celtic influenced classical guitar, “The Eye God” eases into a brief, yet dreamy soundscape. Where “The Viking” hinted at loud and quiet dynamics, “The Eye of God” perfects it. Gentle, downhearted acoustic passages—held aloft with fluid basslines and prodding drums—are knotted with heavier, cavernous blasts of crushing distortion and, again, a mix of clean and growled vocals. “The Eye of God” is a killer track that invokes moments of The Flight of Sleipnir and even, at times, Pink Floyd.

The final tracks, “Tracking the Footsteps of Goliath” and “Cruithne Tide”, are instrumental tunes totaling seventeen minutes—half the album’s runtime. “Tracking the Footsteps of Goliath”, the shorter of the two, is an unsettling, lumbering tune punctuated by sound bites from the Jonestown “death tape”. “Cruithne Tide”, the twelve-and-a-half minute album-closer, fluctuates between sobering passages of soft instrumentation that eventually collapse beneath the weight of heavier riffs and, eventually, changes in tempo and trippy, psychedelic leads.

Haast’s Eagled seemingly came out of nowhere with their excellent, self-titled debut. The four tracks of ‘Haast’s Eagled’ are undeniably rooted in traditional doom, but the band has also created a unique and cohesive atmosphere through their use of varied instrumentation and dynamic song structures. The band has also announced that ‘Haast’s Eagled’ will see a physical release through Senseless Life Records, as will their follow-up release. Based on the strength of their debut—here’s looking forward to the band’s continued evolution and next release…

Haast's Eagled Facebook

Haast's Eagled Bandcamp

Senseless Life Records Homepage

Senseless Life Records Facebook

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