It was at the end of last decade that Balkor (the Toulouse-born guy involved with e.g. Pestiferum, Mourning Forest [(1)] or Caterva Runa) decided to start a new project in order to focus even deeper on the whole Old School current we all adore. So he started writing new material under the Halsfang-moniker, and step by step the realisation of an album transformed into a final stadium. Together with session drummer Naja-Atra (he was in Mourning Forest before, so both guys sort of know each other), they recorded Vere Papa Mortuus Est, the debut for Halsfang. They signed to Hass Weg Productions to have this debut released (in an edition of 1,000 copies, including an eight-page booklet). The main mix and mastering were done by David Castel (he did work with Mourning Forest too, yet also with the likes of Reborn To Die Again, Dwail, Dung, Manimal, Psykup etc.). And oh yes, the very ‘apart’, explicit artwork was done by Maxime Taccardi, the guy behind K.F.R (for which I did upload a review for the Death March recording recently; see update March 27th 2016).
[(1) for a review on their split with SAD, called And Nothing Shalt Remain, please visit this webzine’s update of March 17th 2016]
When I listened to the album the first time, I was convinced after a couple of seconds. And still now, after a few listens, I am truly ‘charmed’ by the honesty of this project. Halsfang are nothing but ‘real’ and ‘true’ Black Metal – no gimmicks, no trends, no nothing but the purification of aural evil!
With Vere Papa Mortuus Est, we experience almost one hour of fast, straight-forward, epic Black Metal, finely rooted in the old styled spirit. Most compositions are based around the same structures, but since the excellence of the song writing, and of the professionalism of the execution, it is like a modest classic piece to be (I admit: this is somewhat exaggerated, yet still…). The material is built upon mainly fast (and I mean energy, unstoppable and merciless energy, marching forward to war, to victory) and still melodic rhythms. Many times it comes with that glorious epic touch that did characterise the Scandinavian scene at the end of last century (though beware: it’s not like the melodic-epic grandeur à la Mourning Forest, okay). But many pieces do come with that chainsaw-buzzing Thrash-mentality, which isn’t that uncommon either when thinking about the glorious Nineties. Truly remarkable is that the whole riffing, and then I am referring to all strings involved, are multi-layered, I mean that this isn’t just based on some simplistic one-riff structures. No, the whole experience is ‘full’ in its being, like a monument, a whirlwind. The tremolo passages add those moments of Nordic-styled pride, primped by the well-crafted, fast-fingered rhythm guitars. And once in a while it’s even hypnotic in essence (cf. the opening riffage in a piece like Duos Habet Et Bene Pendentes). The drum parts are very remarkable as well. At the one hand they are supportive, i.e. pushing and pounding with their repetitive character. But they seem to have their own role to play too, not only at the background. I am not talking about their prominent presence within the mix (which I will come back to immediately), but they seek attention for sure. And then, the vocals. Damn, Balkor’s throat is of such blood-spitting, venomous and necrotic strength; it cuts to the bone! But there is even ‘variation’ in his timbre, which includes some deadly spells as well. Once in a while, Halsfang also add some (vocal) samples, just brief excerpts, but it gives that something additionally creepy.
Lyric-wise it’s just like the essence of the Music: not renewing anything at all, but sticking to the roots. Death, blasphemy, destruction and misanthropy are, in general, the main themes of the English lyrics. But don’t fear, for they’re not like some pathetic or infantile ‘hail Satan my master’ alike kind (though, many Thrash-Black outfits from the Old School easily come away with that, and then I do not complain either…).
Absolutely honourable is David Castel’s assistance in the studio. He succeeded to create a sound that is harsh, barb-wired and rusty at the one hand, yet perfectly mixed at the other too. All aspects, therefor, stand on the foreground, equally participating to the whole game.
In conclusion I’m battling a duality. At the one hand, such long piece of harshness, thrashness, it’s hard to endure. It hammers on your skull, and seen a certain lack of moments of figurative rest, some might get enervated, and I can understand why. At the other hand, one cannot ignore the persuasion and passion that splatters out of your boxes when going through this Black’n’Roll monument. Balkor could have put les songs, clocking just half an hour; that would have been the easy way. But no, he comes up with the full package. Great mentality! And besides, isn’t this material ‘fun’ to enjoy? I, leastways, did.
Recommended if you’re into the likes of, let’s say, Carpathian Forest, Tsjuder, Witchcraft (the Hungarian one), Nadiwrath, Sargeist, End (the Greek one), Mutiilation etc.