PICK OF THE WEEK: Battle Hag’s expansive doom lights fires on land-toppling ‘Celestial Tyrant’

Remember when everyone was really excited for 2020 to end so that 2021 could get here and automatically change things for the better, and we’d all be really happy again and be able to resume our lives in peace? Yeah. It was always a lie, or perhaps just a way to ease our nerves, but here we are two weeks in, and things aren’t feeling much different.

The relieving thing is we already have a nice bit of good heavy music in 2021 to keep us gainfully distracted, and the one coming our way today arrived via a heads up in my email about “Celestial Tyrant,” the new crusher from Battle Hag. The music has been available digitally for about a month, but the three-track, 45-minute opus is being issued via cassette by Transylvania Tapes, and is it ever worth devoting your time to this outright mauler. The band—guitarist/vocalist Dan Aguilar, guitarist/vocalist Danny Ensele, bassist Neal Oliver, drummer Grey Cat—just clobber you but also make your imagination soar to planes beyond this one as they play tricks with your mind while leaving you battered.   

“Eleusinian Sacrament” is the 12:47-long opener, and it’s the shortest song on the record, just so you know what you’re in for. Glorious riffs burn like a freshly lit candle crackling as growls slither and slowly maul, and the leads begin to glimmer in the sky. Things get moodier and then crunchier as a psychedelic edge sets in, and the low end absolutely pulverizes. The vocals smear, the playing barrels you over, and then elegantly slow leads transfix as waters rush, and the guitars trickle away with it.

“Talus” runs a hefty 13:12 and is introduced by drums tapping and guitars bleeding in before everything lights up and blinds, with doomy melodies melting into guttural fury. Grime and sorrow meet as the riffs get darker and more dangerous, even moving toward Sabbath territory. Things then get faster and more aggressive as the leads take over and cut through, wild howls punish, and the bloody ice melts and leaves the ground stained. “Red Giant” is the 19:15-long closer, and it unloads with snarling growls and dark tidings, with a stoner-style vibe feeling thick and mesmerizing. The growls rumble as the guitars leave sunburn, pushing into psyche territory before things get cold and icy. The track flows slowly for a stretch before the sludge returns and starts landing body shots, emotionally spilling its guts all over the ground. A deluge of power pushes its way in, and the band begins stomping as the growls punish and the guitars take off and set uncontrollable blazes. That sets the stage for the fiery finish that feels like it’s pulling the world apart at the seams as the playing and noise sizzle away.

“Celestial Tyrant,” the second record from Battle Hag, is an early-year revelation, a tremendous doom document that’s a soaring fireball across the sky that’s screaming toward the surface. It’s expansive and imaginative, heavy and smoking at the same time. It’s an album that hopefully puts the band’s name in more people’s mouths as they talk who’s keeping doom’s fire burning so dangerously.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/battlehag

To buy the album, go here: https://transylvaniantapes.bandcamp.com/album/battle-hag-celestial-tyrant

For more on the label, go here: https://www.facebook.com/TransylvanianTapes

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