Signed by dunk!records off of the strength of a single live performance, Ghent’s Hæster is revelatory when one considers their neophyte status. Upon listening through their debut record All Anchors No Sails, there is nothing about this band that suggests that this is their debut material. Seething with sheer power and boasting a supremely confident sound, Hæster invites comparisons to metal behemoths such as Cult of Luna and Mastodon. But it doesn’t take much further examination to see their own unique elements bleeding out to the surface to set them apart; bursts of organs and female vocals, disquieting vocals samples, guitar leads emerging to cut through the densely weighted riffs, swaths of startlingly beautiful melody – all of these things combine to add surprisingly rich dimensions to All Anchors No Sails that help it differentiate and rise above the relentless one-dimensional assault that can sometimes characterize lesser post-metal artists.
However, in case you missed the suggestiveness of the album’s title, this is no light-hearted soiree. All Anchors No Sails is largely characterized by its thundering guitar riffs, which are propelled by precision percussion that makes all the difference. It unfolds with sometimes mathematical calculation, but it never ceases to be engaging. The gripping groove of Ironmongers opening perfectly complements the more traditionally punishing savagery of its verse sections, though the drums are always ready with a compelling rhythm when the moment suits it, constantly pushing the track forward into new and exciting territories. The conceptually-linked Ghost in Machines and Ghost In Us reveal Hæster as a band capable of thoughtfully crafting their ideas without ever over-selling the drama in ways that many artists do when exploring progressive composition. The songs on All Anchors No Sails have an uncanny tendency to keep it straightforward enough to successfully deliver the goods while layering in nuances and textural elements that allow them to traverse an ever-expanding palette in a fashion that will undoubtedly draw in even the most discerning post-metal aficionados.
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