Hazy Hamlet - Forging metal 3.5/5
1. The beginning of the end - part 1
2. The beginning of the end - part 2
3. Black masquerade
4. Metal revolution
5. Field of crosses
6. Funeral for a viking
7. Chrome heart
8. Chariot of Thor
9. Forging metal
10. The faces of illusion
The do-it-yourself approach to heavy metal remains alive and well. After recording sessions spanning from 2006 through 2008 (and costing them a drummer somewhere along the way), Brazil's Hazy Hamlet finally self-released their debut CD, 'Forging metal', earlier this year. The band's stubborn insistence on doing it themselves and in their own way is laudable. Given their professionalism and sound that would fit neatly on the rosters of labels like Pure Steel or Metal on Metal, I find it hard to believe that Hazy Hamlet didn't receive any offers. My sense is that the band decided to go the independent route as a matter of principle; indeed, they wear their self-reliance as a badge of honor, including a legend on the back cover of the CD case reading "Independent Heavy Metal Forged in BRAZIL Proud to Be Loud!" That statement really captures what Hazy Hamlet are all about.
Of course, independence is only a virtue if the CD is good. Fortunately, 'Forging metal' is a worthy achievement that is deserving of a place in the music collections of old-school true metal mavens. Musical reference points for Hazy Hamlet are fairly typical for bands of this ilk, but I would compare them to Teutonic acts like Grave Digger, Rebellion, Sacred Steel and Majesty, as well as countrymen Hellish War and Dragonheart, plus like-minded bands such as Battlerage, Bloden-Wedd, Witchblade and so on. Vocalist Arthur Migotto is a somewhat unique commodity, as his heavily-accented voice successfully combines the throaty grit of Rebellion's Michael Seifert and the operatic tendencies of Dantesco's Erico La Bestia (although without the latter's annoying propensity to overdo the vibrato). Migotto will not be everyone's cup of tea, and some may yearn for a more conventional traditional metal singer. For me, though, Migotto is plenty effective, and I'm grateful that he's not another cookie-cutter clone.
The material swings between predominantly anthemic Grave Diggerish songs with choir-driven hooks (as in "The Beginning of the end - part 2", "Chrome heart" and "Field of crosses") with occasionally rougher fare featuring gang-shouted choruses (such as "Metal revolution" and "Black masquerade"). Of course, none of this stuff is even remotely groundbreaking, and the lack of variation may be offputting to some. And there's not as much speed or intensity in the music as one might expect. My take is that Hazy Hamlet could use some growth in the songwriting department, to flesh out the dynamics in their music, boost the catchiness factor, and enhance the epic feel for which they strive in places; however, the band can hold their heads high because 'Forging metal' represents an excellent start and a promising omen of better things to come. The leading songs featured on this CD are competitive with many other bands in the style, although a step behind the genre's leaders.
So here's the thing: If you like bands like Grave Digger and Sacred Steel, and if you want to support up'n'coming international bands whose veins bleed pure metal and who have toiled for years on their debut CD as a labor of love, then 'Forging metal' belongs in your shopping cart. If you are a stickler for pristine production values, prototypical metal vocalists, or brilliant songwriting, then Hazy Hamlet may not be the right band for you. At the end of the day, Hazy Hamlet deserve praise and respect for forging an uncompromising CD of pure heavy metal, delivered with honesty and passion, and hewn from their own hands, without external input or contaminating distractions. But I think they're poised to aim higher next time, and it would not surprise me at all if Hazy Hamlet found themselves atop the South American traditional metal hierarchy before long.
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