The Hounds of Hasselvander
The Hounds of Hasselvander


3.5
great

Review

by dwightfryed USER (27 Reviews)
November 24th, 2019 | 2 replies


Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Blood hound gang

Hasselvander is a genuinely fascinating deity in the world of underground metal. It’ a name synonymous with quality, with grit, with existence in a separate plane of true art – dark, alluring, and exceptionally heavy. He’s the man swimming through the liquid asphalt of Pentagram releases like “Review Your Choices” and “Be Forewarned”. He’s the one that lit a fire under Raven when it seemed their true fanbase was eroding. Even his strange pseudo-German band with Jack Starr is worth exploring.

Back in 2001, Pentagram was scheduled to headline a doom festival in Towson, MD with a host of other Sabs-obsessed back alley creeps from Halfway to Gone to Black Manta to whoever else. The band wasn’t exactly playing out regularly – suffice to say a show with the full band at that time the equivalent of Haley’s Comet passing through again. At any rate, they finally hit the stage super-late without Bobby, who had pulled another one of his no-shows. Joe stood on that stage and just assaulted us all with the thickest, meatiest, droniest riffs from the last couple of records and improvised lyrics about hating Bobby Liebling – the man was livid. Eventually he started passing the mic stand down to the front row, the audience took turns shouting out the words to Pentagram songs. Bobby showed up about a half-hour late and jumped on stage. The band stopped playing and that was that – but I never forgot that nagging feeling that Hasselvander should just handle the vocals himself. The man is a cosmic overlord of riffology.

Not sure if that show (or others like it) were the catalyst for his Hounds of Hasselvander project, but it’s everything one would expect from a metal journeyman like Joe, personally handling everything from bass to drums to vocals to guitar to production, with fabulous results. He’s a consummate masterclass in doom metal riffing, his style straddling the line between Iommi, Griffin, and Weinrich, rich in subtle melodic nuances – a master of the Gibson SG as evidenced in the haggard tempo of “On Her Way”, his voice nearly as dynamic as his guitar and bass acumen. His drumming is still the main attraction in some of the songs, like the rolling, tumbling splendor of “Take Up Your cross”. “Last Call” is the penultimate DC doom anthem, a lurching curse of a riff, leads droning in all directions, Joe spewing bucolic imagery like “Bow legged toothless hag, can’t find the cocaine to fill her bag. Old spinster rocking in her chair , got rid of me because of my long hair. She’s got that old-world charm. Little black hair dye will do no harm.” Who told him he could write a song about my aunt in Fredericksburg?

When the man says “Take up your cross and follow me”, there’s really no need. I’m already there and have been for years. This would be the first of several quality releases from the Hounds that would result in great shows (ironically, Liebling has shown up at a few to croon out some Pentagram covers – transcendental, of course) and spawning yet another twisted branch in the family tree of the Maryland/DC doom community that warrants extensive exploration.



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user ratings (2)
3.5
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
dwightfryed
November 24th 2019


123 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Part of a new group of reviews I'm putting together on the Baltimore / DC doom scene.

wham49
November 24th 2019


6176 Comments


great choice, interested in your other reviews from this group, love that scene, however nobody was better than that first lineup of Pent though



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