Cursed To The Night
Review by Fernando on August 24, 2023.
When it comes to German black metal, the country is obviously very prolific, and in recent years, there’s been a unique new breed of German bands that manage to keep the dark mystique of classic black metal in a variety of new ways. And thanks to the label, Amor Fati Productions, we have a supergroup of sorts from three of those bands. Enter Hagatiz, a project helmed by Semgoroth of Dauþuz, MK of Häxenzijrkell and Odium Aeterum of Lunar Chalice and a host of other bands. With three veterans of the scene from widely different bands, is this debut album Cursed To The Night a miss, or a hit?
Given that all of the bands each member comes from are distinctive enough from each other, it’s actually a surprise how this record manages to be its own entity with its own sound and aesthetic. The music of Cursed To The Night sounds dark and melancholic, but also very vitriolic, albeit, in a very oppressive way, while also being very traditional. The compositions and songwriting are very much indebted to classic 90’s black metal, particularly in how the album is very guitar-based, the riffs and dual melodies are the main selling point of this record, which alternate between long droning passages, darkly melodic leads and hard hitting riffs backed by blast beats. And while all of it is good, and show that the band are sticking to their statement of making pure and uncut black metal, therein also lies this album shortcoming, it’s just a black metal album, there are virtually no surprises to speak of, musically. I can definitely respect the band wanting to make a straightforward record, but unless you really like mid 90’s black metal, or early Burzum and Arckanum, the record doesn’t do much.
That being said, while the record is completely in line with black metal past, what Hagatiz did here is still an impressive debut on the back of their performances, which are tight as hell, and like I mentioned, all members manage to have this project be its own thing without their other bands’ sounds seeping through this project. Furthermore, while the record doesn’t reinvent the wheel, the band make up for it with their already impressive and tight performances but also with the production, as this album sounds great, as every instrument is audible, clear, and more importantly, it doesn’t feel artificial or underproduced. Aside from the excellent dual guitars, the bass was a welcomed surprise, it sounds great and very impactful, same as the drums, and the vocals are suitably hideous and dejected, so as a whole the record does work, as everything is performed and presented excellently with no filler or missteps, and at just over 35 minutes, the record is compact, hard hitting and to the point, which is always a welcomed gift, since the band clearly don’t want to overstate their welcome.
One track I want to highlight, but that it will be a weird mention of is the closing instrumental track ‘Necrovoid’, aside from being instrumental, it’s also a dark ambient, synth driven outro that’s appropriately ominous and off putting. I bring this up because one instrument I didn’t mention were the keyboards. They're very subtle and subdued in comparison to the rest of the instruments, but they give the entire album a dark atmosphere that’s understated but truly elevates the music to be as dark as it is. Furthermore, it shows that while the band are committed to do black metal the old way, they also show the potential of doing something more interesting, not necessarily needing to dive into dark ambient or atmospheric black metal, but certainly mixing up the formula to create something special. But as it stands, it’s a solid record that will be enjoyable to the most devout of second wave black metal.
Best tracks: 'Echoes From The Afterlife', 'Everlast In Darkest Night', 'Drown In Darkness'
Rating: 7 out of 10278