Monday, May 8, 2023

Full Length Review: Aghast "Hexerei Im Zwilicht Der Finsternis" (Eternal Pride Production) by Dave Wolff

Band: Aghast
Country: Norway
Genre: Dark ambient
Full Length: Hexerei Im Zwilicht Der Finsternis (reissue)
Format: Cassette, CD, digital album
Label: Eternal Pride Production
Distributed by Infinite Fog Productions
Original release date: 1995 (Cold Meat Industry)
Re-released September 13, 2013 by Ordo MCM
Release date: September 1, 2020
I listened to "Hexerei Im Zwilicht Der Finsternis" for the first time in 1995 or 1996, and what else can I say about its impact? My interest in second wave black metal was piqued as I explored Aghast, Mortiis, Vond and Abruptum, I was beginning to discover the lightless, obscure depths that Norwegian and Swedish musicians could explore, and there was much more to explore in the years to come. The recording in particular expanded my perception of what these musicians were capable of musically, lyrically, and artistically.
Upon listening to it again, I am transported back to the pitch-black woods, the darker shadows, the ice-covered wastelands, the creaky rotting coffins, the sacrificial altars, and the haunting incantations I envisioned the first time I heard it. Nacht (Tania Stene) and Nebel (Andrea Haugen), the witches responsible for bringing to life these hymns to utter darkness, created an album that, even if it was their only release, captivated me and sent chills up my spine like no other I'd heard then. It was truly a landmark and remains so today.
There is no doubt that this album is miles ahead of the perceived simplicity of black metal and dark ambient genres prevalent in the first half of the 1990s. The minimalism and repetition brought to these songs are considerably deepened by a multitude of vocal and keyboard effects creating a stark atmosphere that invites you in and suddenly seizes hold of your consciousness, enveloping you in a world of fading twilight from which you cannot escape. Aghast’s confrontation of mortality leaves lasting impressions on your mind.
Their ability to captivate the listener, enhancing the mood precisely as required, can be observed in their use of chilling monotones, unnerving singing, sudden cries, and echoing laughter. Since each song has its own unique characteristics, I am unable to even give specific examples. Each song seems to be a deeper exploration of the witchy darkness the two of them create on this album. However, if I had to choose, I would say my personal favorite is "The Darkest Desire" due to my long-lasting interest in vampire lore.
Andrea Haugen continued to work on and direct more projects while expanding her own musical boundaries, including Nebelhexë, Hagalaz' Runedance and Aghast Manor, besides becoming a poet author and script writer. Sadly, she passed away during the Kongsberg attack in Norway on October 13, 2021, but her music is a testament to her exceptional ability as an artist. –Dave Wolff

Track list:
1. Enthral
2. Sacrifice
3. Enter The Hall Of Ice
4. Call From The Grave
5. Totentanz
6. The Darkest Desire
7. Das Irrlicht
8. Ende

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