HAZAEL - Clairvoyance (WM PSYCHO - CD 2011)
To re-release any of Hazael’s recordings is undisputedly a great decision, in my opinion. Back in the early 90’s they were one of my favourite Polish death metal bands and they actually still are, although I hate the fact that all recordings from them, which I have, are on the old cassettes, which aren’t in the best condition anymore. While I find it ridiculous to pay 200-300 dollars for the CD version of “Thor”, I was really hoping that finally someone will decide to re-release this album, but the copyright problems make it impossible yet. So, as the sort of consolation we get the re-release of Hazael’s great demo “Clairvoyance”! This is actually the second of Hazael’s demos CD release, as earlier the same WM Psycho had released “Chapel of Doom / Rehearsal '91” compilation, but that material wasn’t so interesting for me, mainly due to the incredibly poor audio quality. With “Clairvoyance” this problem does not exist, as the sound on this demo is really good and I even like it more than the production on “Thor”. Anyway, I must admit that I really like the work, which WM Psycho did for this release of “Clairvoyance”. The booklet for this CD is just killer, as it has all the lyrics plus a lot of scans from the fanzines, with old interviews with Hazael. I’m afraid that the foreign listeners won’t find it as interesting, as all these interviews are in Polish, but for me it is great, as I could have read some really cool, old chats with the band and remind myself some important facts from their history. Great! Besides, the CD has a multimedia bonus section, with an old live video from 1992 and my copy also includes a small poster and a pin, so really I got everything what I could only wish for. I hope though that maybe WM Psycho will consider releasing “Clairvoyance” on vinyl also, it would satisfy me fully then.
I guess I should finally write some words about the music on “Clairvoyance”. First, let me just say that I think this is one of the best Polish death metal demos from that period of time (and ever). If I was about to make a list of five my all time favourite Polish demos, then along with “Morbid Reich”, “Necromanical Exmortis”, “Dead Condemnation” and “Invisible Reality” I would definitely put there also “Clairvoyance”. This demo truly impressed me ever since I have listened to it for the first time almost 20 years ago and I can really say that I guess I even like it more than “Thor”, although I also like the album a lot. But there are some things, which make “Clairvoyance” better than “Thor”. One of them would be the production. When I listen to “Thor” I sometimes have a feeling like the album lacked some aggression and became maybe slightly too soft in many parts and “Clairvoyance” is a bit rawer and thus also more violent and energetic and I like it a lot, even if there are some mistakes and in general the sound is far from being perfect. It’s got the charm of early 90’s Polish death metal productions and as such I like it a lot and I don’t really care if the sound doesn’t match the standards made by the Swedish bands on their albums.
I said that the material is pretty aggressive, but you must know that it still is also very melodic. There’s no need to deny that Hazael was strongly influenced by the Swedish death metal scene and their music has many patterns, which can be compared to the likes of Cemetary, Desultory, Excruciate, Afflicted, “Astral Sleep” era Tiamat, as well as Dismember. But what is great is that Hazael also managed to find their own sound within this Swedish lethal niche. Once you hear their song, you simply know it is Hazael, as they have some characteristic riffing, which was developed on “Clairvoyance” and then perfected on “Thor” and also you’ll obviously recognise the vocals, as Tom sounds like no other vocalist. His voice is maybe slightly similar to Mathias Lodmalm and Johan Edlund, but is characteristic enough to become one of the most significant things in Hazael music.
I must say that I really like the material on “Clairvoyance”. All songs are truly superb and the songwriting is top notch. The guitar leads, all the melodies… the whole guitars’ work is simply amazing. They especially show their great potential in those slower and more atmospheric parts, as the faster fragments may sometimes feel to be slightly less effective and poorer, but only really slightly. The opening song, “Legate of Goat Tyrant” is definitely the finest song, impressing with great ideas and especially those parts, where Hazael added acoustic guitars and all those epic passages, but to be honest none of these tracks are bad; there’s absolutely nothing what I would find as weak or forgettable, all songs are based on great riffs and harmonies, are well varied and dynamic and offer everything what I like about the Swedish death metal, so I’m not going to complain at all. “Clairvoyance” is really fine demo. Desultory would probably be the closest of all bands, which I could compare Hazael to and since I’m a big fan of the early (and the latest also!) works of this band, and since I also have a lot of great memories and respect for “Clairvoyance” demo and “Thor” then I cannot recommend it to you enough and I cannot even stop listening to it, so damn great it is.
Final rate: 87/100