Hey! Listen to Battle Hag!

Battle Hag does not write riffs so much as they summon an unusually melodic thunderstorm. Tongue of the Earth is an apt name for the debut album; their doom metal swirls with primeval atmosphere that seems to rumble from the earth itself, rather than from any human artifice. This effect is accomplished by a tremendous attention to detail: the massive bass tone, the low and bestial growls, the slow and towering riffs, the sometimes-ritualistic percussion… the net result is that, at their absolute best, Battle Hag provides the distinct impression that the listener is cowering inside a shallow cave, helpless to explosions of thunder and bludgeons of debris while a formless predator roars in the distance. It’s pretty cool.

Battle Hag manages to make me gush partly because the opener, “Nechronomicron”, sits atop my Song of the Year shortlist; this, in turn, is helped in no small part because it contains my current Riff of the Year. “Nechronomicron” begins ambiently; it’s an overused metaphor, but the first two minutes of the album really are the calm before the storm. Eerie, monastic vocals echo over a disconcerting ritualistic drumming pattern. The mixture builds in intensity until The Riff storms in, and that’s about all you need to know about that.

The album is very cohesive; the low, harsh vocals preserve the atmosphere much better than traditional clean doom metal vocals would have. Everywhere the album is stocked with accoutrements dialing up the atmosphere — a little throat singing here, a synth effect there, an abused whammy pedal. None of it is overdone, though. The sound is never overpopulated with cheap tricks. Overall, it’s actually very sparse — if you discount the impossibly beefy guitar tone, anyway. Even for a doom album, it is heavy. So turn your speakers way up and blast some Battle Hag, please.

Andrew Hatch is from a place that isn't interesting enough to bother mentioning. His hobbies are diverse and unrelentingly avant-garde, ranging from such arcane activities as rock climbing, reading books, and listening to music(!!) Additionally, he is of the firm belief that the great superhero Guitar Solo and his sidekick, Tremolo Riff, have the mettle to cure all that ails the world.