The one-man black metal band Hâl from Germany has released its second full album, “Drei Dezennien.” I must admit, I haven’t heard the previous album, “Von Nacht und Mahr.” The new album, as well as the first album, is available on Bandcamp in digital and CD format. In this review, I’ll provide some information about the album and some of its tracks.
Three Decades of War
The new Hâl album contains seven songs and has a runtime of 41 minutes. What drew me to this album was its artwork, which depicts an image from the Thirty-Year War that occurred between 1618 and 1648. The painting used for the artwork is by Esaias van de Velde and was created in 1623.
- Die Glocke schlug zu Prag
- Von Schanz’ zu Schanz’
- Des Zimmermannes Klag’
- Knecht und Magd
- Des alten Neiders Freud’
- Die Saat aus Pest und Tod
- Wund das Land und Firmanent
All the tracks on the album are linked to the Thirty-Year War and some of the events that took place during that period. I found the concept of the album fascinating. Musically, the album is decent, but to my untrained ears (although I listen to a lot of music, I don’t play any instruments), the drums sound a bit off. I’ll assume that a drum machine is being used, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but the mixing of the drums on this album sounds a bit off. For instance, I think the cymbals should have been brought more to the foreground. Nonetheless, the other instruments and vocals sound decent. It’s not groundbreaking by any means, but I did enjoy the album.
“Des Zimmermannes Klag’,” which means “The Carpenter’s Lament” in English, is the third track on the album. The song starts off slowly and builds up a nice atmosphere. You can hear the cymbals, but because of the mix, they could have been more pronounced. After 40 seconds, the tempo picks up and the drums kick in. The vocals are very gnarly and, for me, are the best thing on this album. My German is okay, and I understand most of it, but I did use DeepL to translate the lyrics to get a better understanding. The lyrics are very nice and tie in with the events of the Thirty-Year War itself.
Now he sees how the lamb gives birth to the wolfLyrics from the 3rd track (translated to English).
How creation is put to shame
Cut to pieces by those he loved so well,
Who knew only kindness from him
Another highlight on this album is the song “Die Saat aus Pest und Tod,” which translates to “The Seed of Plague and Death.” It is estimated that between four and twelve million people lost their lives during the Thirty-Year War, but most deaths weren’t caused by the war itself but by famine and plagues (such as the bubonic plague). Therefore, the title of the song is very fitting because the war was indeed a seed for plague and death.
It is the maiden who has been ravishedLyrics from the 6th track (translated to English)
That no one looks at any more
It is the child who was orphaned early
That everyone now despises
The song starts off with a Black ‘N Roll vibe that I quite like, making for a nice build-up of the song. After almost a minute, the gnarly vocals kick in, and the drums pick up speed. For me, this song is the best on the album.
Overall, it’s a decent album. Although the drums could have been mixed a bit better, the rest of the album sounds decent. It probably won’t be the best album of 2023, but it’s worth checking out if you like atmospheric black metal with a historical theme. I’m also interested in giving Hâl’s first album a spin.
You can listen to the album below (the album premiered on our YouTube channel), and if you like what you hear, support the artist by purchasing the album in your preferred format. You can find the links below the YouTube video.
CD & Digital Album available here: Drei Dezennien | Hâl (bandcamp.com)
Instagram: Hâl (@hal_bandofficial) • Instagram photos and videos