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.
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.