Today we have the honor of premiering a full stream of Monterrey, Mexico based black/doom metal band HAGEL‘s long-awaited debut full-length ‘Veneration of the Black Light‘. Active in the late 90’s and resurrected about seven years ago, this project sounds as if plucked from a Century Media catalog circa ’93-’96 during the then emergent ‘dark metal’ craze. Highly melodic pieces framed by strong keyboard work, the songcraft here is both nostalgic in purpose and pieced together with care by a meticulous hand making ‘Veneration of the Black Light’ a particularly noteworthy event for folks seeking this classic melodic black/doom metal sound. Don’t just take my word for it, read what the band has to say in this recently conducted short interview (see below) and, while you read, wheel straight down to an exclusive full Bandcamp stream below and witness the memorable vortex of ‘Veneration of the Black Light‘. The album will be available on CD and digital download this Friday, May 21st through the folks at Personal Records. Thanks goes to the band, their representation and Personal Records for the opportunity to share this fantastic LP early!
When Hagel was originally active in the late 1990’s there were a handful similar bands out of Mexico who seemed to disappear around that same time — From my perspective the notable ones easily remembered are maybe Demolish, Supplicium and Argentum. Was this a sign of the tides changing for this brand of “dark metal” at the time? What was the main reason Hagel called it quits back in 2000?
Well I don’t know if the tides were particularly changing for that style on those days, I guess music in general is, and should be in constant change and evolution. The reason to end back in 2000 was because Luis Vidal Galindo, keyboard player and vocalist, moved to Germany to continue his medical studies, so without one of its creative halves, there was no point in continuing with the project, and Hagel ceased to exist.
On that same note, what happened along the road back to Hagel? Why resurrect the project in 2014? Was there unfinished business or, still some old songs that needed to be heard?
The decision to reform the band was mostly to resurrect the project and share in a more refined way what was done in those days, without losing the essence of that era. We believe they are great songs that needed to be recorded and produced properly so they could be brought back to life, and not fall into oblivion.
Is all of ‘Veneration of Black Light’ new material from 2014 and beyond or, were any of the songs included written back in the late 90’s?
7 of the 8 songs included in this record were originally composed between 1995-1997, the last track, “Whims of a god” was composed around 2016 with the new lineup, but keeping the sonic essence of the original compositions.
What were the biggest shared influences among the original line-up when it first formed? Are these influences any different today with the newer line-up?
Ophtalamia, Mortuary Drape, early Moonspell, early Rotting Christ, Samael, Tiamat and Cemetary were some of the main influences behind the band’s sound in the early days. Nowadays the influences are very much the same with the current lineup, with the addition of newer ones such as Empyrium, Uaral, A Swarm of the Sun and Arkhon Infaustus, just to mention some.
This record feels intensely nostalgic on my part because I grew into extreme metal in the early-to-mid 90’s connecting with the early work of Katatonia, Samael and Sadness — Did nostalgia play an important role in the creation of this debut?
Yes it did. nostalgia did play an important role in the making of this album. As we already said, we didn’t want to let these songs fall into oblivion, so that’s why we tried to keep them as they were 20 years ago.
Although we could divide black/doom and gothic melodic/death doom with some precision today, the classic idea of “dark metal” as a sub-genre tag typically aimed to describe a strong atmospheric and emotional conveyance. Is there strong emotion attached to or, intended within Hagel’s work?
Yes, even though we don’t consider ourselves a “dark metal” band, there is definitely emotion and dramatic atmospheres in some of our songs.
Is there a theme or larger statement guiding us through the lyrics of ‘Veneration of Black Light’?
The lyrics revolve around a wide plethora of topics, one of the most prominent is the scorn towards typical human behaviors like organized religion. The idea of worshipping a god that punishes you for following the instinct he himself planted into you is both ironic and repulsive, I consider it to be a closeted masochistic behavior. Besides that, lyrics are also inspired by the works of artists like Clive Barker (in Labyrinths of Flesh) or other interesting topics such as astral projection.
What is the best way that fans can support Hagel right now?
You can support us by following us on our social medial (Facebook, Instagram, YouTube), and if you want to purchase a record (CD or digitally) you can do it directly with us at email@example.com or through Personal Records https://www.personal-records.com. It will also be available soon in every major music streaming platform.
Per the press release:
On May 21st, PERSONAL RECORDS is proud to present HAGEL’s long-awaited debut album, Veneration of the Black Light.
Formed back in 1995, HAGEL are an atmospheric black-doom band hailing from Monterrey, Mexico. The original lineup comprised Carlos Velázquez (Ulveheim, Sacratus, Noctambulism) on guitar, Luis Galindo on keyboards and vocals, Fernando Galindo on bass, and David Benavides on drums. Due to personal reasons, the band went on hiatus in the year 2000. While recordings are rumored to exist, HAGEL never publicly revealed any demos during this period.
In 2014, Carlos decided to re-form the band and started recruiting musicians to form the new lineup; not too long after, the new HAGEL was reborn. The new lineup consisted of Juan Reyes (Buzrael) on drums, Elizabeth Castillo (S.O.Y.G) on bass, and Ivan Saldaña (Alpha Hydrae, Hiborym) on guitar and vocals. In 2017, one of the founding members, keyboardist Luis Galindo, rejoined the band.
In 2019, HAGEL entered the studio to record their first full-length, in a professional way. Bearing the title Veneration of the Black Light, the record was finished, mixed, and mastered on December 2019, all before the world fell into chaos. In May 2020, the band gave their first preview with the single “Decalogue of Misery,” an all-too-apropos title for the times.
At long last, the full strength of HAGEL is revealed with Veneration of the Black Light. Refreshingly retro or at least traditional, HAGEL remain true to their original ’90s vision with a sound favorably comparable to early Mortuary Drape, The Gathering circa Always…, Switzerland’s Sadness, 1992/93-era Katatonia, old Rotting Christ, Ophthalamia, Bethlehem circa Dark Metal, and Moonspell’s classic Under the Moonspell. In other words, when everything was dark and foggy and shrouded in obscurity and mysticism, those glorious ’90s…and HAGEL resurrects that, with power and authenticity, across Veneration of the Black Light – because they were THERE. Reborn…undead!
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