Album Type: Album
Date Released: March 30th 2014
Label: Lay Bare Recordings/Fallodischi
Hēn track listing:
6 Vitriol – CD Bonus Track Only
The Band Members
Lorenzo: Guitars, Vocals
Emanuele: Bass, Effects
NAGA is a Blackened Sludge/Doom Metal band from Italy who impressed the hell out of me in March 2013 when I reviewed their excellent debut S/T EP. It received a whole load of praise from the Doom/Sludge Metal community.
Well 12 months later NAGA are back with their breathtaking debut album Hēn – a stunning 54 minute sprawling odyssey unleashing vast amounts of Blackened Sludge/Doom Metal riffs that will simply blow you away. First track – Naas – is a 13:14 minute epic that feels like a trippy nightmare come to life as NAGA unleash a brutal blend of riffs that harks back to the earlier Sludge/Post-Metal days of Neurosis. Lorenzo pours his heart and soul into this track it's equally passionate and disturbing at the same time. You can feel Lorenzo's pain and torment blended in with the hard-edged riffs that gives NAGA a very nightmarish and addictive style of their own.
Second track – Hierophania – starts with a satanic like prayer being spoken in Italian which quickly unsettles the atmosphere before NAGA start laying down some dangerous Blackened Sludge riffs for you to try and escape from. The song has a chilling down-tempo vibe which NAGA perfectly explore to their advantage. Perfect music if you're worshipping Satan on those cold nights. NAGA start adding fast-paced riffs to the album and it gives the album a more defined sense of added menace. If you're expecting some uplifting post-rock passages then you better look elsewhere as NAGA stay in the darkness and it ain't a pretty sight. NAGA thrive on the torment and misery of their music and it makes Hēn such an unforgiving and unsettling experience.
Third Track – Eris – is another epic dark journey to consume your soul with. 12 minutes of sublime down-tempo Sludge Metal vibes that show NAGA bringing more misery to the world. But there is a beautiful addictive nature to it as NAGA unleash some brilliant riffs to confound the horrors of their music. It may be depressing at times but you can't deny the band have something special here. Eris sees Lorenzo unleashing his demonic fury once again and it ain't a pretty sight. This track has a slight YOB vibe to it. Though it's still has a sound and identity all of it's own especially when the guys start adding Psychedelic sonic riffs which I didn't expect at all.
NAGA have really outdone themselves here and this album has came something a a surprise. I expected it to be good but I didn't expect it to be such a mind-blowing experience. As it really fucking is. The album is a dark brooding masterpiece that you will need to listen to over and over again to fully understand the whole album.
The album has two final epic tracks will leave you begging for more. The Path and Hen which accounts for the albums final 22 minutes running time. The Path was included on their debut EP from last year but this version sounds so much better. It's more deeper and the atmospherics are just to die for. 10 minutes that will have you coming back for more punishment.
Though it's the final track – Hēn – which is the albums stand-out track. Blackened Sludge/Doom Metal on a grand scale. NAGA throw everything into mix on this album to draw the album to a brilliant close. Psychedelic riffs combine with the earlier menacing and pulsating Blackened Sludge/Doom Metal riffs for one final journey into the dark world that NAGA have created. Lorenzo once again on fine form with his vocals adding a terrifying sense of danger to proceedings. This is a gut-wrenching track to listen to. Play this track as loud as you possibly can to get the full effect. Trust me when I say this track is one hell of an emotional ride.
The CD Version of the album has one extra track – Vitriol – to scare the hell out of you once more. It's from their debut EP released in 2013. But it's still a powerful track that will give you nightmares for life.
Hēn is a brilliant debut album from NAGA that is going to end up on a few Album Of The Year Lists including mine. A truly stunning and defining album that NAGA should be proud of. Just buy this when the album is released on March 30th 2014.
Thanks to Désirée Hanssen from Lay Bare Recordings for sending me a promo to review. Hēn will be available to buy on Vinyl from Lay BareRecordings and CD on Fallodischi from March 30th 2014.
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Written by Steve Howe