What fresh faced devilry do we have here then? Well fresh by name only, the faces behind this recent project are foul and rotting especially that of frontman Killjoy who should need no introduction. His most well-known outfit Necrophagia seem stuck in a bit of a limbo of late and with European dates rapidly cancelled at great annoyance no doubt to band and fans at least we do have something to fill the gap. Indeed Haxxan appear to be comprised of all 4 current members of Necrophagia, Killjoy and Shawn Slusarek along with latest inductees Jake and Serge. There’s another participant here too adding to the vocals on some tracks, a voice from beyond the grave and one synonymous with Loch Ness, no I don’t mean Nessie but another great beast otherwise known as Aleister Crowley. Anyone steeped in the art of Thelema should be well aware that for some time he dwelled on the shores of the loch in Boleskine House so put all these key components together and you have an album imbued with witchery and magickal acts.
It’s no massive departure from the sound of Necrophagia, perhaps less ‘ravenous’ and deathly and more inclined to atmospherically bring the doom. The title track starts with ghostly unmistakable voice and oozes in with glistening guitar tones and slow brooding drum beats. The rhythm plods in and sounds great as it stalks and limbers away on decrepit limbs. Killjoy’s vocals have that ghastly black blood vomiting tone about them and any fans of the day job will quickly find themselves in an (un)comfortable place. The samples are really placed well and it does make it seem like Crowley is an active participant in it all, one wonders what he would have thought? Followers and devotees of his faith will no doubt be able to turn the pages and follow hidden text within the musical grimoire here, for instance second track 93 alludes to the whole concept of his doctrines and as far as the track is concerned sees a rise of energy and ghastliness as the ghouls really pick up the beat with the singer rasping away thickly. Some underlying melody adds a gloomy but illuminating touch and the whole things weaves together perfectly. ‘A A (Arcanum Arcanorum)’ has some spooky organ work calling devotees to a black mass and proves a solid mid-paced banger with plenty of wretched vocal gurgles and the sound here recorded at none other than Thelema studios is suitably thick with plenty of ballast. It has ‘Babalon’ proving particularly hefty and with vocals about a Scarlet Woman and a stomp about it that wouldn’t be out of place in a deathly Cathedral number making it a particularly catchy and potent number. It certainly strikes as the ‘single’ of the album, although that itself is a preposterous notion.
It’s not all about layers of groove as things go all trippy and hippy with midpoint instrumental ‘Aiwass,’ which really helps you dig the overall vibe (man) before we are back in the thick of it with the winding, grinding attack of ‘Disciples Of The Silent’ which despite name makes a good old racket. Overall songs are kept compact and have a punchy tenacity that has them slithering away in your brain box. It’s pretty accessible and enjoyable and it feels like the band are really in their element and totally jamming off each other with a chemistry that bodes very well for future Necrophagia recordings. As the last few tracks play out and I shiver at the gorgeous guitar tones of ‘The Blackest Chasm’ I’m not going to say anything clichéd like “buying this should be the whole of the law” but it seems I have and you certainly wouldn’t be short changed having a punt into the depths of Loch Ness.
(8/10 Pete Woods)