Possibly drawing upon a reference in the Ambrose Bierce short story “Haïta the Shepherd”, and/or stories in Robert Chambers‘ collection The Yellow Sign, H.P. Lovecraft added Hastur the Unspeakable to his pantheon of the Great Old Ones in his tale “The Whisperer in Darkness”.
Spawn of Yog-Sothoth, the half-brother of Cthulhu, and possibly the Magnum Innominandum, Hastur was a vast monstrosity of hideous power drawn from nameless aeons and inconceivable dimensions. And that terrible thing seems to have been an inspiration for the Irish musical duo who chose for themselves the name Hasturian Vigil.
However, these two — multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Cxaathesz and drummer Shygthoth — were not content to set their music solely within Lovecraftian spheres. For their debut album Unveiling the Brac’thal they created a mythos of their own, Yith-Melle, inspired not only by Lovecraft but also by Machen, Lord Dunsany, and Yeats, all the better to “embrace their fascination for cosmic dread, deranged pantheons, and unspeakable curses”.
So says the materials accompanying the album which we have received from the publicist for Invictus Productions, which will release Unveiling the Brac’thal on February 2nd. We also have these prefatory words from Hasturian Vigil:
Photo Credit: Owen O’Mahony
In the scriptures of mortal men, there exists a pallet of stars and flesh…
Yith-Melle, the dimension of chains…
Where the resonance of deathmagick spurted the cosmic architect, decorated in a million eyes and teeth…
The creator of plague and torment…
A crack in the world has opened…
To unveil the Brac’thal…
But what then have these two done with their music under the spell of such dire visions? You are about to discover the answer for yourselves through our premiere stream of their debut full-length — which has spawned visions of our own as we have listened.
Unfolding across four long-form songs, the album could be said to intertwine (like the writhing of massive tentacles in the dark heavens) cherished elements of black metal and classic heavy metal drawn from pantheons of a different kind — ones populated by the likes of Mortuary Drape, Absu, Mercyful Fate, Negative Plane, and Zemial, but also populated by the likes of Thin Lizzy, Priest, Motörhead, and a whole lot more stretching from the ’70s forward.
To delve a little deeper, these 33 minutes expose listeners to a multitude of hooks — riffs both fierce and fiery, and barbed with steel of course — backed by an equal plenitude of muscle-moving and body-bruising beats and fronted by blood-freezing snarls and ghastly, serrated-edge howls echoing from torture-chamber depths.
Convulsions ensue as the music races and lashes the senses, with solos that spasm and scream in deranged ecstasy and leads that extravagantly swirl and pulse with the throb of fevered blood. The drums thunder and blast, but also lock into rocking grooves and deliver electrifying fills, while the bass lines routinely thrill the reptile brain.
Channeled with a sound quality that deftly straddles a line between distinct clarity and gritty filthiness, the music enables an appreciation for each instrument without cleansing the foulness in the riffing’s tonal roots.
Photo Credit: Owen O’Mahony
But these songs don’t let us overlook the dread dimensions from which they emanate. The guitars also eerily wail and moan, slither and suffer. Keyboards radiate harrowing and haunting ambience, and the soloing in the closing song sounds like a lament. Even when going on the attack, the band interleave moods of fear and agony, and the moments of grandeur (of which there are many) reveal a glory most hideous.
The album stands way out in this year’s earliest releases, and it’s exceptional for many reasons, but most of all because the songwriting is so damned good. The tracks are longer than average, but the changes within them are frequent and gripping, so there’s not even the slightest temptation for the mind to wander.
And Hasturian Vigil have a rare knack for deftly splicing together divergent genre influences in ways that pay homage to a range of classic styles, and finding the roots in them that they all share, the roots that all merit the terms “heavy metal” and “rock ‘n’ roll”. It’s unpretentious music, which is part of its strong appeal, but very impressively accomplished.
And with all that behind us, it’s time for you to get hooked now:
Unveiling the Brac’thal was recorded and mixed by Shauny Cads, Last Light Recordings, at Temple Lane Studios, Dublin. It was mastered by Dan Lowndes at Resonance Sound Studio, and features artwork by Canopic Ire.
Hasturian Vigil were also accompanied by a few guests: S.C performing a guitar solo on “Apparitions of Torment”, J.K. performing another on “Nine Bellowing Hounds”, and L.H adding bone percussion.
It’s available for pre-order now: