Hadal Maw – Charlatan (Self-Released)

Sunday, 22nd July 2018
Rating: 8/10

Ever continuing in their quest to further identify themselves, Hadal Maw have undergone some changes with each release. While their latest release Charlatan doesn’t make such huge steps as its predecessor (Olm), it nonetheless drives the band forward. Not to mention finally hitting some of the riff territory that they’ve come just shy of hitting.

Where Olm saw the band really slowing things down and focusing more on a more Meshuggah/Gojira angle to complement their death metal fury, Charlatan takes it a little further. There’s a darker, and more foreboding sense to the music, particularly on the two-part title track. It makes for an album that’s somewhat more accessible than Olm, but without sacrificing any of its heaviness. The lumbering riffs are occasionally monstrous in tone (see “White Elephant”), and they have more memorability to them than with previous material. A good thing, since the songs fall more into the 5-6 minute range, and a shift towards some occasionally more blackened riffs provide some variation to feed off of. Their more tech-ish origins are still present (see the explosive beginning of “Idolatry”), the way that they work in more melodic leads and slower, groovier segments is seamless, going for the right range of atmosphere at the same time. In a sense, you could note that it’s a more mature sounding approach, but it’s also a bit more raw in tone – vitalizing the energy and giving it more presence. Lastly, the vocals are quite diverse, going from the usual growls to some more intense high shrieks and a few clean vocals here and there that enhance without softening the mood too much.

A step forwards for Hadal Maw, who have been sitting at the cusp for a few releases now. Charlatan gives the listener a solid 30-minutes to chew on in total – a healthy portion of heavy riffing and atmosphere that is bound to perk up more than a few ears if darkened death metal is on the agenda.

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