Visits From the NightHag has been something of a passion project for The Projectionist‘s mastermind Lörd Matzigkeitus for a number of years now. Any of our loyal Vault Hunters who remember my conversation with him from back in May will recall him mentioning that The Projectionist had just finished recording the NightHag double-album and had sent it off for mixing and mastering. And if you don’t, here’s how he described it at the time: “It reads in a play format, similar to Emperor circa Nightside Eclipse performing works of King Diamond. Complete with guest voices (I can do almost any voice but I can’t sound female, haha), elaborate orchestrations and a funeral moan choir.” There’s also a section in Chapel of Astaroth, his recent collection of ‘black metal poetry,’ called “Visits From the Night-Hag” where one can find find many of the album’s lyrics, as well as get better acquainted with the album’s narrative and characters like George Howard, Dr. Bendix, and the NightHag.
Full disclosure: I became friendly with Lörd Matzigkeitus in the lead-up to that interview in May, and I was lucky enough to get a chance to hear Visits From the NightHag Part 1–it ended up being too long for a double-LP set, so LM and Appalachian Noise Records decided to split it into two releases–shortly after it was mastered. While I haven’t spent enough time with the album yet to be completely comfortable in declaring it a masterpiece, there is no question that it will be remembered as the Canadian black metal band’s magnum opus. It is fucking brilliant, and Lörd Matzigkeitus–already arguably the most versatile black metal vocalist this side of Cultes Des Ghoules frontman Mark of the Devil–so thoroughly outdoes any other vocal performance from any other album in his intimidatingly large and varied discography that I barely noticed the music over which he was shrieking, growling, moaning, and providing a whole battery of other voices besides. Add in the guest contributions from Caeser Tiberius (Ides of Winter), the arcane Aven Haunts, and a funeral moan choir, and you easily have one of the most vocally engaging black metal albums since…possibly ever?
Of course, The Projectionist isn’t just the Lörd Matzigkeitus show, and Visits From the NightHag Part 1 is not an a cappella album (thank fuck, though if any black metal vocalist could pull it off…). The rest of LM’s co-conspirators–Parageist (guitars), Malphus (drums), Orpheus (bass/orchestrations), and Clytemnestra (piano) –more than match his vocal versatility with their performances. Far more nuanced than the band’s raw, aggressive contributions to the Aliança das Chamas Negras split with Féretro earlier this year, the music add the exact sort of emotional weight to Visits From the NightHag Part 1 that LM’s carefully crafted narrative and tour-de-force vocal turn deserves.
In simplest terms, Visits From the NightHag Part 1 plays out like a black metal Shakespeare and a black metal Wagner decided to get together and write, as Lörd Matzigkeitus puts it, a “jarring, unsettling concept album that unravels the story of a projectionist accosted by night terrors that induce sleep paralysis so powerful his limbs are to be amputated. The vicious, cryptic NightHag covets what magics she knows him to possess. She will summon all the forces of Hell to steal them from him and slaughter all he holds dear…” It’s sure to hold a prominent spot on my year-end best of list, and I cannot fucking wait to hear Part 2.
We are honored here at the Vault to be sharing the first track premiere from Visits From the NightHag Part 1, the harrowing “Act 4: What Can be Mollified in a Banshee’s Thrashing?” Here’s what Lörd Matzigkeitus had to say about the song:
In “What Can be Mollified in a Banshee’s Thrashing?” our protagonist George has just had his legs amputated due to an attack the previous night by the cruel NightHag. He’s awoken in the hospital flanked by the nurse and Dr. Bendix trying to quell his violent screaming and thrashing. They must discover from him how this has happened and what must be done to save George’s life from this apparition…
Visits From the NightHag Part 1 will be shipping late September/early October from Appalachian Noise Records. Preorder the LP here – and don’t delay because some of the color variants are already running low – and then come back and get your first taste of the album below.