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Haast's Eagled : II: For Mankind

Haast's Eagled's sophomore: forget the genre labels here; this is simply great music.

When I finally got round to pressing play on this, Welsh trio Haast's Eagled's sophomore release, I stuck it on late at night purely to find out what they sounded like, thinking I might get through the first track before heading off to bed. Fifty something minutes later I was still up and wanting to listen to it all again.

If you judge books by their covers, which I'm afraid I can be all too guilty of, then the skull with a horn smashed through its mouth gracing the front of this release could be something of a red herring: the wispy background colouring being far more representative of the overall mood of the music. Having said that, some of the vocals - when they're not the strikingly clean tenor tones prevalent throughout the recording - are a tortured, sepulchral gargle far more in keeping with the emaciated figure in the picture.

Opening with the heartfelt sway and lilting passion of fellow Brits OHMMS, it's immediately apparent that the Welshmens' Post-metal soundscapes are emotionally driven, and any force or weight behind the music is there for a reason and not purely for the hell of it.

As is the case in many Post-rock ventures the range of possible influence is widespread. There's the piano-led build up to 'Zoltar' (probably not named after the villain from Battle of the Planets), which is a kind of Nick Cave/Pink Floyd melange, and a highly effective one at that. The song then explodes into the stirring Sludge/Doom/Post hybrid which is clearly the band's bread and butter. It almost ends in much the same fashion, with the ghost of Rick Wright at the keys and the spirit of Nick Mason barely keeping up, while a sombre sax dictates the mood. Forget the genre labels here. This is simply great music.

Less outright doom than Pallbearer, and without the metallic flourishes of YOB, but no less emotive than these bands, a close relative or distant cousin would be Pelican, whose fans would undoubtably approve. But it's only a resemblance. The Welshmen have a stand-alone quality and a maturity to their sound which also features small fearless, experimental touches, nowhere more in evidence than in the aforementioned saxophone, and the vocals which open up the final offering, 'White Dwarf'. It's also a testament to the bands writing that despite only having four tracks it's difficult to pick a favorite. Best just to sit back and let the fifty-something minutes of music wash over you. Which is exactly what I'm going to do. Again.

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Reviewer's rating: 8.5/10


Tracklist :
1. Pyazz Bhonghi
2. The Uncle
3. Zoltar
4. White Dwarf

Duration : Approx. 52 minutes

Visit the Haast's Eagled bandpage.

Reviewed on 2016-07-11 by Matt Halsey
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