Atmosphere is key in many genres of music and in metal specifically. At the end of the day, there’s only so much emotional weight that your instruments can generate based on established tools, even with the endless variations available to the modern artist. Where albums truly rise above the norm is in the spaces between those compositions, in the way the entire thing comes together as a whole. One could cite The Ocean‘s Pelgial or Gojira‘s From Mars to Sirius and one would do well to do so in this context. Hadal Maw‘s Senium definitely draws on those two albums to create a monolith: a towering pillar of death metal and atmosphere that swallows the listener whole.
The roots of the pillar will come as no surprise to those who are familiar with the genre and this band specifically. The drums are the highlight of this framework, displaying not only depth in the double bass but a blistering accuracy along the higher cymbals as well, which lends a progressive and unexpected edge to many tracks, like the otherwise straightforward ‘Dissent’. The end result is a firm backbone for the entire album, from beginning to end. Into this is poured the groovy bass, where Hadal Maw find themselves most reaching backwards to The Ocean. Groovy and intense, the bass lines sacrifice trickery and false embellishments for brutal and gut wrenching directness.
The second floor of our structure are the guitars. Here Hadal Maw grasp their other influence tightly, namely Gojira. While the album is replete with down-to-earth riffs that convey its main power-line, they are further realized with sudden pick sweeps, drawn out breakdowns and a tag-team approach to the bass lines. While staying firmly attached to the other instruments, the guitars feel free enough to also elaborate and extend the other sounds. All of this serves to carry the listener through this dense and complex album by keeping him engaged with the basic progression of the tracks.
In to the broth we can now finally add the vocals, as they are the clincher in this album’s intricate machine. More than anything else, yet aided by all the other parts, they are the instrument that adds the most atmosphere and emotion to the album. Tracks such as ‘Coil’, with its drawn out scream right near the end, or ‘Alter of Ire’, where the vocals are at their filthiest, convey this point to the tee: the vocals take what are otherwise powerful tracks and elevate them into the realm of shattering strength.
And so, finally, we are faced with the entire creation. Mixed with ability and skill to blend all the different elements together, Senium tells a story but one less reliant on words and more on gut sensations. The overall feeling of pressure, urgency and dread are conveyed using the established tools of death metal, tools made more than their parts. What exactly is it that takes these disparate parts and welds them into a whole? If we had that answer, we could manufacture music, but for now we must rely on talented musicians like Hadal Maw to make the magic and art happen. Senium is a great example of how you do that.
Hadal Maw – Senium gets…