Let’s face it; Hasselvander is no fool. He is no spring chicken either. He has been on earth for twice as long as some of us and he has been playing for longer than some of us have been alive. He has seen it all and perhaps done most of all, he has gotten his expectations built up and he has also seen them dissipate just as fast, they have come close to fruition and when they did not come true it just took more than a decade for history to claim justice.
Joe Hasselvander, who first played drums in the mighty Pentagram from 1978 to 1979 and then from 1983 to 2002 (he also played guitar and bass from 1999 to 2002) and has done time in plenty of other projects, as a guitarist and a drummer, is now offering his second album under the moniker The Hounds of Hasselvander. Back in 2007 Hasselvander released an album under this moniker for a recording in which he handled all the instruments and vocals. Then, little attention was paid. Now, with two musicians in tow, Hasselvander is perhaps formalizing The Hounds of Hasselvander as a real contender in the doom realm. Aiding him in the recording we can find bassists Martin Swaney (himself a Pentagram expat as well with three stints in his resume) and Eric Cabana. Hasselvander, renaissance man that he is, handles everything else; vocals, drums and guitars.
There is certainly no humbleness in display here. The first track gives the album its title and is certainly ambitious. Musically speaking it is all doom, but the track is in a way, epic, moving between different phases on the subgenre. Past the rainy intro, the track crawls; 80’s Trouble or Candlemass speed, dragged and sustained by a melody that eventually evolves into an upbeat tempo that is marked by tribal drums. Hasselvander gives himself time here to show off his six string skills, only to eventually circle back to the repetitive classic doom sound of the 80’s.
As a vocalist Hasselvander is better than one could expect from a man whose career has been spent as a drummer and a guitarist, At times, Hasselvander vocals reminisce of a sultrier more melodically inclined Wino Weinrich and at others, he sounds like Lemmy after throat surgery and at least 4 years of clean living. His delivery is effortless and raspy, definitely aged.
There are no brilliant songs in The Ninth Hour which makes it a perfectly compatible recording. There are standouts like the banging “Heavier Than Thou” or the upbeat “Don’t Look Around”, but predictably, Joe plays it safe and does what he does best. History must have taught him.
Written by Bobby Peru