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Hauntologist – Hollow Album Review

No Solace – 2024 – Poland

Hauntologist is a post-black metal duo from Kraków, consisting of Mgła drummer Darkside and multi-instrumentalist The Fall (Michał Stępień). The album Hollow is the duo’s debut long-player and seems to have been met with slightly different reactions from the audience, most of which seem to be based on how much people compare Hauntologist to Mgła or not.

But Hollow stands out with its structure that slightly turns the listener upside down and encourages them to rethink what they hear. You understand why I say this more clearly towards the end of the album. In fact, the album opens in such a way that you think, why was there a need for this project when we had Mgla? Those cymbals bounce gloomy and long riffs, a dull and cold vocal, ups and downs as if a continuation of Mgla, etc.

To be honest, I’m not a fan of every post-metal interaction. Usually, when “post” comes in front of black metal, it takes things to different places. But with some nice twists and turns, it managed to catch me almost from the beginning to the end. Fast and intense passages of atmospheric black metal are complemented by brooding and melancholic moods that soften the anger of the black metal sections with more reflective atmospheres.

The image of the album and the band photos seem to me to reflect the depression and anxiety of urban people. Especially the short video they used on instagram is the biggest indicator of this. You can feel a poetic suffering in the lyrics. Especially when I review albums, I have a few drinks, recently before I started writing about this album, I always crossed the limit and I would pass out after listening to the album completely. This time I’m listening with the first sips of alcohol.

“In love with the void
That grows within the soul
Mesmerized parade goes
Onwards”

The album is quite successful in general and consists of interconnected songs. Hauntologist is not exactly an MGLA-influenced band, but I can feel a 60% similarity in terms of percentage. Especially the composition traffic, vocal tone, and drum bounces have created a great similarity, but what differentiates the band from MGLA at some point is that it contains more atmospheric and post-metal… The riffs that slice your soul thinly are really well chosen…

“A shroud on the eyelids
A brick wall too thick
How does it feel?
Deathdreamer, asleep?”

The song Hollow, which has the same title as the album, gave me some Tiamat vibes. Both the lyrics, the vocal structure, and the general atmosphere of the song made me feel like I was listening to an excerpt from Tiamat’s Wildhoney album. For example, this song takes away the black metal atmosphere of the album. It is a very calm yet emotionally intense piece of work.

“Heart failures, soul failures
Calling an angel-winged ambulance
Floor texture, blood pressure
Drunk saviour
Infusion of fire in dead veins

The Earth is hollow
And so are we.”

With Autotomy we are greeted with a more doomy atmosphere. It makes you feel as if you are walking alone on a beach in a gloomy atmosphere. (This is not possible in Istanbul of course) I must say that I felt really sad while listening to the song, especially in the faster parts.

“…and as the wild drum of the pulse hits its last notes, you are closer to the truth
It is not the world that is dying, it is you”

In the song Gardermoen, they really manage to throw you for a loop. Especially the song starts and continues like a post-rock song. Those who didn’t notice might have thought that the album ended and another band started automatically. The song just asks “Where have I gone?”, where have I gone? Jericho, Nostromo, Umea, Moscow, Warsaw, Oslo?

The album closes with the song Car Kruków. This song reminded me of some transitional songs of successful bands of the depressive black metal genre like Bethlehem, Woods of Infinity, and Lifelover. I think the lyrics are in Polish but they are also written in English. In this song, he talks about the feeling he gets in the morning when he looks out the window of his house and sees crows crowding the tree in front of him, and when he falls asleep again he has a nightmare where those crows turn into ravens and kill him in different ways.

And I say it again and again
“It’s not time yet…
It’s not the time…”

To summarize the album, I recommend you to listen to the whole album without prejudice and give it your all. Let’s not forget that Black Metal or metal music is not only about hard/aggressive things. It is very difficult to compose music that appeals to so many emotions and to write poetic lyrics. That’s why you shouldn’t just dismiss it as atmospheric, post, etc.

9/10

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