Hagall features short slices of Scandinavian-influenced black metal. Bands such as Marduk, Mayhem, Shining, and Gorgoroth are probably pretty decent starting reference points, but don’t tell the whole story. If you throw in some depressive black metal alongside this, as well as some other, quirkier elements, then I suppose you’ve largely a got a good idea of what this sounds like.
This is a release that’s totally underground and raw, yet still manages to impress with its presence and personality. Hagall manages to have a lot of character and charisma, with songs that may be relatively short, (mostly), but still have a lot of enjoyable content in them. Across the various tracks you can hear plenty of good riffs and musical ideas, and I particularly like some of the dark melodies that make appearances. If I had to state a preference, I’d say that my favourite parts are the slower, more despondent sections. We also get some solos, which is a relative rarity for black metal. Kudos.
Favouring a combination of bleak aggression and forlorn atmosphere, the music has learned its source material well, while also managing to portray its own predilections and personality well across the songs. As well as the depressive elements that can be heard, occasionally there are some progressive flourishes which are very satisfying. There’s not much of this, but I like it when it appears.
The production values are low and faithful to the 90s style for the most part. Three minor exceptions to what this type of recording normally delivers; the first is a stronger, punchier drum sound; the second is a slightly warmer guitar tone than normal; the third is a bass guitar presence that can actually be heard and felt.
A recommended listen for anyone into the bowels of the black metal underground.