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Hagel – Veneration of the Black Light

Veneration of the Black Light
by Justin "Witty City" Wittenmeier at 12 June 2021, 7:46 AM

This is what I am talking about! A band that combines black metal, doom/sludge and Gothic textures and does so very effectively!  So who is the band?  That would be a HAGEL, a doom metal band from Mexico.  Apparently, they formed way back in 1995 but for whatever reason are just now putting out their debut album, “Veneration of the Black Light.”  They took the long game but I say that it has paid off.

The way the album is produced really brings out the band's dark texture and style, which is actually varied. The keyboards are exceptional: theatrical but not overly. They enhance the song just enough to be a boost but not a burden. Each instrument can be heard and is never lost in the mix. The vocals are a throaty scream that is grim as expected and goes along with the music well. Musically speaking, they have the raw edge of black metal and the slow crushing heaviness of doom metal. There are bursts of speed scattered throughout the songs but they never get too fast. Good. I'm always happy when a band embraces their sound.

"Decalogue of Misery" opens the albums with sweeping keys throbbing bass huge riffs and a primordial scream. The drums are rather energetic which is something I always enjoy in doom as it offsets the slower pace and changes up the dynamics. About halfway through the song there is a ramp up in speed that introduces the venom that resides in black metal, a great contrast to doom. The title track is up next and the riffs and keys work together wonderfully for a Gothic infused rise that echoes the best parts of 90s doom. The melodies in the song are simple but are used well to harness the band's power to encompass all the space within sound.  There isn’t anything too complicated presented on this album but HAGEL work so well within the scope of their vision.

"Mystery of the Mortal" is definitely one of the more Gothic inspired songs on the album and actually reminds me somewhat of MOONSPELL. The later half of the songs is filled with a kick ass riff that grooves and pushes the songs into new heights. The final track "Whims of a God," has the drums leading the charge while the keyboards highlight the darkness. There is clean guitar in this song which adds more layers and dimensions, plus a little flare. The passage from clean back into doom metal is smooth and executed seamlessly showcasing the bands abilities to change styles on a dime.

All in all, this is a very solid doom album that uses blackened and Gothic elements to its advantage. Here's hoping they put out a new album sooner rather than later.

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 8
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

1. Decalogue of Misery
2. Veneration of the Black Light
3. Blindness
4. Labyrinth of Flesh
5. Mystery of the Mortal
6. Pergamum
7. The Blazing Glow of Eternity
8. Whims of a God
Carlos Velazquez - Guitars
Luis Galindo - Keyboards
Elizabeth Castillo - Bass
Juan Reyes - Drums
Ivan Saldana – Vocals, Guitars
Record Label: Personal Records


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