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4 out of 5 skulls
July 26, 2013 | ,

Hessian Mánégarmr

About the only thing I know about Belgium is my intimate relationship with their trappist beers. Big, rich and down right tasty, the beers of the country are some of the best in the world — refined, traditional, romantic even. They have for a long while now defined the country for me. Hessian, on the other hand, define the ugliness, darkness and aggression that I may experience the following morning after one too many. They are the complete opposite of refined, traditional and romantic. The are the seething, scathing underbelly of a nation I thought I knew.

Mánégarmr, the foursome’s (guitarist Levy Seynaeve, drummer Tim Bryon, vocalist Bram Coussement and bass player Kenneth Vanhoutte) debut full-length on Southern Lord is abrasive and packed with sludgy, blackened goodness. The ten songs here churn violently with black metal blasts, back alley hardcore and rumbling mayhem. Named for a mythic wolf that devours the sun every night, Mánégarmr certainly is dark as the thick bass permeates driving cold riffs and Coussement’s ferocious barks.

“Ascension” fills the air with squealing reverb briefly before a frigid blast of black metal guitars and rabid drumming arrive. The blackened influence slithers to the background as the crusty, driving riffs and thick bass rumbling along with the vicious, barked vocals. The song is aggressive, bruising and one hell of a way to start off Hessian’s debut. “Serpent’s Whisper” is full of buzzing guitars and rapid shifts in tempo. It also takes on a more traditional crusty, sludge sound with a density to it’s delivery — there is a bit of a blackened edge to some of the lead work. “Mourn the World of Man” has a classic sound as it churns along like a flash flood of raging, murky metal.

“Plague Monger” is one hell of a song. It’s beefier than two all-beef patties and burly as fuck. Aggressive riffage dominates the song while the drum bludgeon with reckless abandon. Hessian give you a moment to recover mid way through Mánégarmr with the smoldering, slow moving “Father of Greed” and ambient instrumental “Vãmãcarã.” “Father of Greed” carries some serious weight with it as a bit of doom leaks into the band’s sound. “Swallowing Nails” is a monstrosity of a song. it’s easily the group’s most ferocious song on the album — rabid drum work and swirling guitars fill the air as the guys pile-drive their way through the next four minutes.

The closing pair of the title track and “Mother of Light” wrap up the album with frantic drum work and massive riffs. Each song showcases the band as succinctly as possible, employing every influence in their arsenal to strip meat from the bone with an abrasive aural attack. Mánégarmr is another stellar debut in a year that has seen many of them. That said, the band’s ferocity may be just enough to separate them from the rest of the class of 2013.

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