Nestling in the abysmal pits of Virginia’s underground scene for over a decade, the U.S. death/doom metal three-piece Night Hag carved its way to the pinnacles of death/doom metal. The full-length album “Phantasmal Scourge” was released by Rotted Life Records on January 28th, 2022, and aptly captures the old school quality in a very authentic manner. Clocking in fifty minutes with seven songs and two covers of Mortician and Necrophagia as the album’s closer. The album presents a proper thrust of crushing old-school riffs and the songwriting is along the lines of Cianide, Autopsy, and Derkéta. “Phantasmal Scourge” adheres to the rotten style of death and doom of the old ways. After reforming again in 2012 the Virginia Beach trio is augmented by John R. (drums and vocals), Sam F. (bass guitar) and, Joe A. (guitars).
Although the majority of the tracks emphasize slower crawling tempos, the whole weight is brought by the buzz-saw riffs and leaves little margin for some brutal sections. In its moldering form, Night Hag is one of the best death/doom outfits to rise from the USA in recent years. With its lurching buzz saw guitars, the guttural emissions sound filthy and nefarious. The opening track “Slowly Festering in Rigor Mortis” inflicts doom upon the listener, the crushing pace of the drums pound for six minutes. There are absolutely no frills here, the guitars churn out some sick rudimentary riffs that are darkly imbued by lo-fi quality, creating a repulsive atmosphere of cavernous death metal.
Throughout the album Night Hag constantly exploits the monochrome tones of primitive doom, delivering a sense of menace that bubbles under the belching growls. Every minute of this album the growls and slow bludgeoning drums possesses you with the feeling of dread. The rough transition often results in abrupt moments of blast beats when the drums pick up the pace like on “Phantasmal Scourge”, bringing some skull-crushing heaviness. Their riffs drip with black sludgy tunes that exude foul miasma and the evil snarls ebbing like a menace. Night Hag knows how to avoid sounding monotonous and for this reason, most of the songs have many different tempos. The slow shift to straight-up death metal mainly builds up, slowly keeping you unhinged while the riffs slowly ooze on “Corrosion Corruption Possession”. It is infused with dual growls that stimulate the grimy old-school death metal riffs and conjure up an atmosphere of darkness.
Night Hag combines these rotten facets perfectly with the grinding barbarity that surrounds songs like “Ghost House”. Which has overwhelming brutality and shows its prime influence of Mortician. The full-length album pieces together the patterns of primitive death metal seamlessly, the blasting section of the drums on “Degradation Of A Putrid Soul” is extremely heavy and the demonic snarls are wickedly executed. One of the merits of the album is the old school approach that is measured by the fuzzy guitar tone, the short tracks are more organic and raw as for the drumming they deliver incredible drum fills. “Petrifying Realization” then sets a doomy atmosphere of horror and the drumming cadence adds a gloomy feel, the right balance of the pacing of the guitars imposes an ominous feel. Despite the unwavering slowness, Night Hag conjure up foreboding images of the shady mausoleum and haunting landscapes. “Witching Hour Violation” begins at a fast pace with the crude sludgy guitars parading slowly through the thick molds of concrete drums. Like the eerie silence of death, the foreboding atmosphere permeates with spectral quality, with that being said Night Hag has mastered its craft.
On each track, the drums perfectly grasp the marching pace of doom with snarling growls and the reverb of the low-tuned guitars. There are plenty of doom moments on the album that give the right atmosphere to the music, though one cannot deny that “Phantasmal Scourge” imparts a sort of unique experience. “Birth After Death” shifts from the slow crawling pace to straight-up death metal and vice versa. Midway through the song, the tempo changes only to settle on the lurching tempo. Finally, Night Hag has delivered an outstanding album that will leave its impact on the fans of the genre. “Phantasmal Scourge” is a dark and unsettling full of funereal riffs that perfectly sound evil, in other words, this is total worship of death/doom metal!!!
Release Date: January 28th, 2022
Label: Rotted Life Records
- Slowly Festering in Rigor Mortis
- Phantasmal Scourge
- Corrossion, Corruption, Possession
- Ghost House (Mortician cover)
- Degradation of a Putrid Soul
- Petrifying Realization
- Witching Hour Violation
- Birth After Death
- Emblamed Yet I breathe (Necrophagia cover)