Finally back in stock!
There was lots of strange musics that appeared on the periphery of black metal in the early 1990's, projects that were intrinsically linked to the black metal scene in one way or another but whose music didn't sound anything like actual black metal, at least not the kind of black metal that was becoming popular in the extreme metal underground. One of the best and most obvious examples of this kind of necro-mutation continues to be Abruptum, whose mix of deformed improvised riffing and crawling dungeon ambience went way over the heads of many fans of traditional Scandinavian black metal. Even more obscure was the band Aghast, a Norwegian duo of two women who only played together for a brief period of time and released just one album during their short existence, a limited edition release called Hexerei Im Zwielicht Der Finsternis that came out on the Swedish industrial label Cold Meat Industry in 1995, and which has been an extremely difficult album to track down ever since.
Not only did the ladies of Aghast come out of the early Norwegian lack metal scene, they were actually married to some of the most influential members of the scene at that time, Andrea Haugen (who would later go on to form the band Hagalaz Runedance) to Samoth from Emperor, and Tanja Stene to Fenriz from Darkthrone; you might also recognize Tanja Stene as the artist behind some of the iconic album artwork for Darkthrone, Burzum and Ulver from the early 90's, and it's safe to say that she's probably much more recognized for her contributions to early black metal art than her forays into ghostly black ambience. But Aghast's music is truly amazing stuff, and it was a crime that their album slipped into total obscurity for so long. At long last, Hexerei has finally been reissued, via Eternal Pride, and it's an amazing piece of nocturnal dread that fans of the more ambient ends of the avant-garde black metal spectrum, black ambience, and experimental horror film music will all fall in love with. The sound of Aghast is a mix of spectral, minimal synths, ghostly female vocals, and extreme layers of echo and other fx, but the way that Aghast shapes this sound into their mesmeric stygian drift is pretty unique. Heavy sheets of minimal low-end and swells of pulsating rumble drift slowly through expanses of vast emptiness, and above this dark ambience float dreamy female vocals, which vary from lusty narcotized moans to hair-raising witch-shrieks, echo-drenched chanting and demonic howls, like hearing Diamanda Galas leading a series of occult rituals in a huge cavern deep beneath the earth.
The music is sparse but chilling, with stretches of near silence opening up between the sounds of chimes and swells of orchestral strings, minimal violins and thick foglike ambience, everything obfuscated by a murky quality that gives the impression that this music has been moldering and decaying for years. Most of the music is without percussion, save for one track: "Totentanz", the most terrifying track on the album. Here, Aghast lay down a pounding tattoo of tympani drums that rumble beneath the sounds of wailing, laughing witches and processed strings, and it sounds a lot like the more percussive pieces from Goblin's fearsome soundtrack for Susperia, and I'd recommend Hexerei alone just for this awesome piece of psychedelic witch-ambience. But the whole album is fantastic, definitely very black and evil sounding and occulted, but unlike any other black ambient project that I can think of - really, the closest comparison that pops into my head when listening to Aghast is the creepy Japanese ghost-ambience of Onna-Kodomo, but the connection is more in spirit than actual sound. An amazing album of blackened dread and witchy ambience that is obviously highly recommended! Comes in a digipack featuring metallic silver print.