While death and black metal are seeing amazing leaps forward in talent, production, and ability for the denizens of the traditional metal world what we’re seeing from bands such as Enforcer, dawnbringer, Sumerlands, Eternal Champion, and Striker must seem like manna from heaven… or hell, depending upon your preference. One band that has been plugging away at this style, beginning as a bit of a Mercyful Fate worship act and evolving with each new release is Sweden’s Portrait (the band name derives from Diamond’s first solo album, Fatal Portrait). On their latest offering, Burn the World, we see a band who is getting comfortable with their own take on the venerable speed riffs, blazing solos, and soaring vocals of trad metal creating an addictive blend for fans.
Modern hardcore, in its most traditional strain, stems directly from the likes of Black Flag but exists now through a twisted evolution that people like me have attempted to label with absurd titles like emoviolence, powerviolence, and any number of “-core” affixed descriptors. However, one of the main common themes that can be found when listening to or discovering newer variants is a critical nucleus consisting of compact, ferociously brief songs that maintain a rapidfire pace just shy of grind, at least to these ears. Sometimes these include (extremely) brief breakdowns or mid-tempo breathers before flying off the handle again in a manic explosion of righteous vengeance and furious anger.
One band that hits all of those elements and goes hard as fuck on their new EP is Entry out of Los Angeles, CA.
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.