Haggatha – V

Genre: Sludge | Label: Mass Deadening/Nerve Altar
Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada| Listen: Bandcamp

Vancouver’s Haggatha has finally unleashed their third album, “V,” after an excruciating wait from 2012’s “IV.” Those familiar with the band’s previous efforts can relate, as Haggatha’s brand of sludge paints a bleak soundscape dominated by slow, infectious. The band has rewarded our patience with “V,” as they offer six songs of crushing magnitude.

haggatha v front

Fans of classic sludge bands such as Eyehategod, Noothgrush, and especially Grief will find much to love about Haggatha. Unlike those bands, Haggatha never really kicks into tempos beyond a mid-pace, so there’s no punk parts that are typical of sludge. Instead, the band relies on hypnotic pacing that eventually break away like the death of the universe.

Perhaps the fact that this record barely approaches a mid tempo speed may be concerning to those who question how a sludge band could write anything memorable without the genre’s staple approach to dynamic songwriting. Fear not, as Haggatha are a band that give songs their own nuances to keep things interesting. The opening track, “Scrying,” uses dissonant notes and a 7/8 time signature in its middle section, for example.

Some later-era Grief influence is really clear on tracks like “Swallowing Bile” and “Animal Husbandry,” both of which feature some high fretboard work, adding melodies into the colossal riffs as they cascade into the songs endings. “Sherman” starts off with some of this as well before the song really gives away to a slow crawl, where as “Filled With Idiots” gets right into a full out guitar solo.

Two members of the band do vocals, which again will lead to comparisons with Grief, as one member does lower death metal vocals, and the other has a higher scream that one would expect to hear in a sludge band. They balance each other out well throughout the record. Particularly, they do some interesting layering at the end of “No Light No Life,” creating an almost ethereal feeling.


The band opted to record once again with Jesse Gander, who has had his hand in several Vancouver favourites such as AHNA, Massgrave, Chapel, and many more. His sound is very professional and manages to balance heaviness with clarity. For those that have seen Haggatha live, part of their appeal is the the physical loudness, which translates well here thanks to the recording.

Haggatha continues to be one of the leaders of doom/sludge in Canada, and this record solidifies their position. This isn’t music that’s made for putting on for your friends – this is music for getting lost in.


AHNA – Perpetual Warfare

Genre: Death Metal/Crust | Label: Neanderthal Stench/Choking Hazard
Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada | Listen: Bandcamp

Constantly evolving and pushing their sounds, AHNA from Vancouver are a band that have been reinventing themselves several times throughout their existence. Over the last few years, their sound has been leaning towards the death metal spectrum, with crust punk undertones seeping their way through the band’s performances.  Last year, AHNA released three incredible splits that each proved to be a crushing slab of music. This year, the band returns with a mini-LP that manages to reach sinister sounds beyond the aforementioned splits.

Right away, AHNA declares musical warfare with a nice tremolo Bolt Thrower-esque riff. Much like the sound of bomber jets overhead, it can only imply imminent destruction, and the drums come in like the blast of a bomb. The thrashing pace continues, revealing great riff development therein. The drums have a clear punk foundation to them, and keep a furious momentum to drive the riffs. Following the blitzkrieg speedy riffs, the song breaks down into slow, eerie territory, creating a distinct balance within the song.

These elements are present throughout the mLP, especially the concept of balance. Not only do we get the balance of tempos, but there’s a distinct balance of overall mood. The death metal parts are frantic and pumping with adrenaline. The slow parts are sinister and pulsing. Furthermore, the usage of dual vocals creates another dynamic in AHNA’s music. Both the drummer and guitarist have distinct voices, one being a punkier shout, the other being a morbid death metal roar.

ahna pw back

In addition to the unique contrast in vocal styles, AHNA utilizes another stand out technique throughout the album with the usage of lead guitars. In essence, they are often times not really “leads,” but rather a texture that creates an eerie atmosphere that is often unparalleled with bands that play crusty death metal. There are a couple traditional solos here and there, but mostly the lead guitar lets the riffs do the talking.

ahna pw lp

“Perpetual Warfare” benefits greatly from its on point production. Jesse Gander of RainCity Studios always does a great job with heavy music for bands in Vancouver and beyond, and AHNA’s sound has never been better. The band included a “demo” track from their upcoming full length as a bonus track on the vinyl version of this release, and it really makes it apparent how great the production is on the five tracks from the EP’s recording session.

Death metal fans, especially those who enjoy Autopsy and Bolt Thrower, will get much enjoyment from this release. Fans of Axegrinder, Sacrilege, and other metallic crust will also appreciate what AHNA is doing. Personally, this is my favourite EP from 2015, and I can’t get enough of what this band has been doing the past couple years. If this mLP is any indication, and as evident with the bonus demo track, AHNA’s upcoming LP is going to do some damage. That is, if there’s any survivors left from the onslaught of “Perpetual Warfare.”


Adversarial – Death, Endless Nothing and the Black Knife of Nihilism

Genre: Black/Death Metal | Label: Dark Descent Records
Location: Toronto, ON, Canada | Listen: Bandcamp

For those paying attention, Adversarial has been one of the most promising death metal acts of this decade. Formed in 2007, this Toronto power-trio has been annihilating everything in their path, whether people realize it or not. Their debut full length came out in 2010, which spewed forth an abundance of spiraling riffs to create a toxic atmosphere that was unparalleled by their peers. However, that infamously loud snare turned a lot of of listeners away from an otherwise incredible album. Adversarial corrected this problem with releases after, especially winning fans over with the split LP with Antediluvian. Finally, 2015 sees their second album, “Death, Endless Nothing and the Black Knife of Nihilism,” and it truly rises above all other black/death metal bands putting music out today.

Adversarial LP front

First, one will notice right away that the production of this record benefits the style of music a lot more. Mixed by guitarist/vocalist C.S., it’s clear that a few more years of recording discipline have paid off. The guitars are thick, and allow the complexity of the riffs to stand out well against the barrage of drums. Drums of this speed are often hard to obtain a clear sound, but this mix achieves a great balance and allows all the hyperblasting and double kick madness to fulfill their roles properly. Lead guitars have a tasteful amount of delay that assist in creating a spiraling feeling of uneasiness. Furthermore, Damian Herring of Subterranean Watchtower Studios handled mastering duties and did a fine job of doing so. Any problems that listeners had with the debut Adversarial album have been nullified with this recording.

The songwriting of this album is unworldly. While most bands playing cavernous death metal end up with some murky version of Incantation worship (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing), this is not so with Adversarial. The riffs presented on this album take full advantage of the fretboard, and subsequently offer a wider range of sound and create a vortex of immense destruction. I often find myself craving to hear many of the riffs throughout this album, particularly on the tracks “Eonik Spiritual Warfare” and “Lone Wresting Hymns To The Warmoon Of Chaos,” the latter being my favourite track on the whole LP. The use of these chords within the riffs remind me of Deathspell Omega but in a much more volatile context. I’ve noticed as I get older, I tend to prefer metal that uses d-beats to drive its rhythm at parts. That being said, if a death metal band can keep my attention without the punk influence, they have to have some massive riffs, and that is certainly the case here.

Adversarial LP Back

“Death, Endless Nothing and the Black Knife of Nihilism” has another strength, and that lays within the flow of the record. Oddly enough, the intro track is the second track, and there’s an interlude in the middle with some 1984-Orwell stuff on it. Some may find this to be overused, but I found it very fitting within the destructive nature of this record. There’s just the right amount of tempo variations throughout the album that keep it fresh throughout its 37 minutes of playtime. There is quite a lot of blasting which is easy to overdo, but they throw in just the right amount of space between to let everything breathe.

In my opinion, this is easily the best record to come out in 2015, and it’s not even a close race despite the fact there were quite a lot of great releases. Adversarial just really excelled and went above and beyond what I expected, and this was an LP I had the highest of expectations for. If the first album’s production turned you off, don’t let that stop you from hearing this. Once again, Danille Gauvin’s artwork has graced the presentation of this album, and much like the music, it contains many intricacies that are more apparent as you begin to emerge yourself in it.