Hån – Facilis Descensus Averni

It’s about time an underground black metal band spoil us. Switzerland’s Hån gives us nothing less than grim emotion on their latest full-length, Facilis Descensus Averni. Hån is the Norwegian word for “scorn,” and their tribute to ridicule is stained on each and every one of the tracks on Facilis Descensus Averni. 

Loose percussion ignites track number one, “Black Banners”; a swarm of melancholy instrumentation treads under piercing screams, awaking the theme  of the album. Guitars scratch through “Desublimation,” and the arrangement of the melody and vocals makes it feel like a rallying, dark anthem. “Distant Lights” quickly builds up and feeds listeners hyper blast beats. Sealing up the album is “Summum Bonum.” Vocals and instruments work together to give a final outcry, but the album’s effects are to be everlasting.

Hån’s interpretation of black metal is beyond satisfying. Songs don’t bleed together in a monotonous lump; each track is marked with its own vibe, where the vocals come from a believable place. Facilis Descensus Averni buzzes with woeful melodies, and the percussion maintains an urgent and forceful nature throughout the songs. Overwhelmingly honest and overwhelmingly desolate sums up Facilis Descensus Averni. 



Heretoir – The Circle

Journey with me into the colorful phases of the human experience. There’s newness, hardship, healing, triumph and bleakness of ending. Our companion is dressed up in the atmospheric/post-black metal tones of Heretoir. The name (meaning “going an own way”) suggests the band’s devotion to individualistic discovery; so, you know Heretoir’s musical efforts buzz with emotive depth and a keen eye. From their debut full-length (2011’s Heretoir), we watch the band expanding these elements as they settled deeper into the modern metal side of the music scene. Heretoir’s latest effort (out in March) is The Circle, ambitiously addressing the cycle of life.



The Circle starts off with a fleeting introduction, “Alpha.” The tune serves as a passageway to some serene realm. Early on in “The White” calm, clean vocals rest against a tasteful batch of melodies. Drums dance us into other shades of the album, and sure enough, we get acquainted with harsh vocals that channel desperation. A quick shift in percussion brings us to another phase in our musical trek: It’s the guitars’ turn to shine on  “Inhale.” Notes seem to sparkle under distant beams, and suddenly, our soundscape releases a sprinkling of Opeth-like sensibilities. A thumping bass sweeps up these remnants as it leads us into a dimmer zone.

The approaching track, “Golden Dust,”is a whirlwind from a more neutral plane but that doesn’t stop it from making an outstanding impression. I enjoy the percussion, softly ticking underneath delightful harmonies.

Heretoir_The Circle_Cover.jpg

The Circle (Cover Artwork)

Two instrumental pieces, “My Dreams are Lights in the Sky” and “XIX XXI XIV,” carry ambition with them from the moment we first meet until our parting. Next up is “Exhale.” those with a taste for the intense, darker side will be satisfied with how this well this track satiates. We’re also treated to a stampede of percussion and aggressive vocals.

Much like its moniker, “Eclipse” shows that change is underway. Several musical sections appear here, then duck and cover themselves, sticking to the title. Meanwhile, we’re still walking hand-in-hand with the Heretoir post black metal formula. Undertones call to mind the feeling of being drenched, weighed down after some downpour. Then, the renewing sounds of “Laniakea Dances (Soleils Couchants)” give a musical pep talk. The harsh vocals here seem to be reaching toward regained hope and light. Passion quickly fills up “Fading with the Grey” and fizzles out with the last number, “The Circle (Omega).”

On The Circle‘s shell are the glossy tones of post black metal and the thick presence of atmosphere. After having peered into the album, the textured planes of existence are revealed: It seems every emotion is explored, and there’s a jagged riff or hazy melody to describe it. The Circle sums up the life journey beautifully; add the album to yours and be rewarded.