Wagars – st
These Latvians combine hardcore punkrock with grim black metal, because ‘in every Latvian person there’s a little Black Metal troll sitting inside’, according to the guitar player Janis. Wagars hit the scene like a brick through your frontwindow at top speed and have been overshadowing the other bands of its members with ease.
The guys have been playing in a broad range of bands. Kastete, one of the oldest hardcore bands of Latvia (who I had a chat with a while ago), black metal bands Ocularis Infernum, Eschatos and grindcore band Dehydrated Goat. Add the Thrash metal of Huskvarn and Collide to this collective and the experimental daring of Trauma Moralis, who even combined reggae and black metal, and we have the mix for an insane sounding record.
The whole record is in Latvian, which might be a problem to some of the listeners. However, when you look at other bands that combine these sounds like Kvelertak… The album starts of with postrock-style ‘Sunrise In Necropolis’. A recording is played over the gentle, atmospheric guitar playing. Then the band is unleashed with heavy hitting blastbeats and static guitar playing on ‘Mills Of Doom’. The elements of black metal guitar playing and punkrock rhythm’s are clearly detectable in the overtly dark sound of the band on ‘Return To the Dark Woods’ and ‘Feast Of Vengeance’. Sometimes it seems to gallop from one style to another in a way that is almost seamless.
‘River Of Blood’ takes it down a notch with that haunting guitar playing that was heard in the intro song and forms an interlude, leading on to ‘Devil’s Lake’. There’s that crustpunk influence, but also the vibe of an Impaled Nazarene that is honestly pissed off getting it on with Converge and Night Hag. Think early Skyforger (partly due to it’s ethnic feel) and Darkthrone in their ‘we play crust now’ period and songs like ‘In Eternal Darkness’ sound very much in place. That ethnic feel really comes about when you hear recordings of the poet Imants Ziedonis, one of the heroes of the national awakening, on the album.
I’ll be very honest, I’ve seen live or heard almost every band these guys have played in and this is really a sum of it’s parts adding up and maxing it out. The gritty, dark vibe of a northern forest of Latgale on the edge of Europe, can be truly felt in songs like ‘Our Roots Reside In Underworld’. The soaring guitar creates that eerie atmosphere of a cold winter night that you must be familiar with to feel it. Still the music has plenty of groove to it. The record ends with the strange track ‘The End Of Civilization’, which has strange almost spoken word vocals over a pounding rhythm section.
This album is worth my time and definitely worth yours. The focus might be on it’s metal side, but there is a clear gritty punkrock attitude that goes into making this thing and Wagars has plenty of that.
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