Haegen - Tales From Nowhere (EP) (2015)

Metal fans, unlike American pop fans, have carved out a tremendous sense of community to go along with the music they listen to. Festivals, like Wacken Open Air, breed a sense of togetherness that you simply can't find in the worldwide music scene. But if you go even deeper, it's folk metal that inspires the greatest sense of camaraderie, bringing the family into the mosh pit, and then out to the bar afterwards. Folk, to it's credit, has even done the most to increase the reach of metal music outside of community at large. It's no surprise, then, to see bands like Eluveitie garnering praise from those who would never think to venture into the darkest realm. Because here, it's about more than the music. Though only three years into their time together, Italy's Haegen have a keen grasp on what it's all about: friends first, and a band second. On their new EP, Tales From Nowhere, they invite you into the pit, and urge to you to join in.

In any good folk metal ensemble, there is always a hook, a wide spreading and infectious element that grabs hold and refuses to let go. Haegen seem to have mastered that concept, as their fast paced, high energy approach wastes no time infiltrating your brain stem. This is the lighter side of the genre, relying on fluttering melodies more than sheer force. Each song has it's own anthemic quality, a certain cross-sectional slice that would incite a sea of fists or nodding heads. Make A Wish, for instance, contains a dizzying array of layers, topped with a wild flutes and whistles that dance circles around your head. It's hard to ignore catchy tunes like this one, and even harder to resist the urge to stomp your foot to the beat. It isn't all style, however, as there is plenty of musical substance to be found here as well. Despite having production work that isn't exceptional, Each layer is captured neatly, and tied together, best captured in the varied and rich work on The Soul Of Your Worst Death, which goes well beyond the boundaries of the first four tracks in both concept and execution.

It's easy to see why so many folk bands become fan favorites; they embody so much of what we love about heavy music, without forgetting that metal doesn't have to be all doom, gloom, and Satan worship. Haegen have not only kept the the element of fun alive, but they've amplified it in a way that makes it extremely difficult to forget. They've got their own challenges ahead, of course, as standing apart from the crowd in arguably the most crowded genre in the metal sector isn't an easy task. But to this point, they've done enough to attract and addict new listeners along the way. With a tightening of the screws on the mixing board, they could see an exponential increase in the quality of their overall sound. But studio tricks aside, the music they've presented on Tales From Nowhere is more than ready for the masses. This is the kind of music even the most discerning metal fan needs; the kind that makes you grab a beer, hold your glass high, and scream along at the top of your lungs.

8/10

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