Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Hazarder / Hesperian Death Horse - The Electric Wizard Split EP (Review)

Album Type: Split EP
Date Released: 07/01/2014
Label: PMK Records

‘The Electric Wizard’ track listing:

1). Hazarder – The Electric Wizard (05:42)
2). Hesperian Death Horse – Tesla  (08:39)


Hazarder begin the split with a crunching sludgefest of a riff that would feel just fine in a High on Fire track that builds and morphs as the song moves forward without losing the feel of the original line. Sweaty, chaotic-but-tight drums fill up a ton of space and grow steadily in intensity throughout the tune without ever feeling out of control. Burly mid-range vocals have a great sound; unfortunately they never change cadence or tone, leading to a bit of monotony. After a few minutes of the progressively fury-building atmosphere it suddenly drops out of nowhere into an ambient hum that drags through the last minute or so, all the rage dissipating into nothingness. I feel like these guys have a sound that I could get behind, but occasionally run the risk of not doing enough with their ability. Exceptional when it's on, sort of average when it isn't. Luckily this track manages to stay mostly on.

A chiming guitar over a pulsing, low, but unresolving drum pattern builds a spacy tension at the beginning of Hesperian Death Horse's side of their fantastic split with Hazarder titled "The Electric Wizard", a dual ode to Nikola Tesla. The intro exudes a vibe of walking through a dark laboratory, where everything is switched off and dark but in the silence you can hear that almost inaudible electrical hum of a machine lying in wait. There is barely a transition from this pulsating anxiety as a uniquely hypnotic hoarse grind smashes into being, riding an askew groove under a ragged-voiced glass-gargler howling in their native Croatian.

Pulling elements of sludge, psych, black metal, noise, crust, drone, and a handful of other subgenres is something attempted by more and more lately, with quite a few bands and artists seeing the inherent overlaps of mood or emotion that cross traditional genre boundaries. This song shows how extremely fluent HDH are in each stylistic shift and combination they attempt, and that fluency leads to the shifts themselves feeling effortless and natural even when chords and noises collide in discordance, or when intentionally unsettling sounds are used in the middle of an otherwise mesmeric riff. Everything works even when it doesn't, or shouldn't, which is a key element of their sound.

The violent and vulturous lyrics easily make their point even if you don't speak the language: repetitive exhortations to eat shit, filthy and mean. Leeches, light, quagmire, and uterus summed up and tossed haphazardly onto your plate, choke it down. A break comes in the form of revisiting the intro psychedelia in a noisier, abrasive manner that ramps up the pressure and misanthropy leading into an ultra raw black metal-gone-awry breakdown. The rasping, damaged vocals shriek their lungs empty while it crashes down and a drowning fadeout of feedback finalises it. 8 1/2 minutes of crushing cacophony crossed with an ethereal ghostliness that at times reminded me of Atlas Moth and somehow simultaneously of Mütiilation (and that's before we even get to the near-noise rock elements.) Killer genre-bender.

Words by: James Harris

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