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Track Premiere: Hag Graef – “Arboreal Air Blast”

Florida-based anarchists Hag Graef has arguably been the ugliest-sounding of the current wave of USBM bands from the moment the duo of Vvaake (vocals, guitars, bass) and Vrokhor (drums) debuted with Demo I in 2016. I didn’t catch wind of them until a couple of months later when their split with Sunspell came out, but after hearing the hellish blackened post-punk of “Summoning Anxiety” and the fever dream that is “Set a Flame to the Night,” I was hooked. I tracked down a copy of Demo I, and have eagerly awaited each new new offering of grimy, misanthropic black punk from the band.

When Hag Graef’s latest demo Bitter Black Tongues appeared in my inbox, I immediately stopped whatever it was I happened to be doing and gave it a listen, and it didn’t take long for me to come to a somewhat surprising conclusion. Those other Hag Graef songs that I thought were so raw and hateful? Vvaake must have been in a fairly decent mood when he wrote that stuff. On Bitter Black Tongues, dude is clearly pissed the fuck off. And what has him so pissed? Black metal itself.

In simplest terms, Bitter Black Tongues is Vvaake’s venomous screed against what he considers to be the failures of other bands in what he calls the ‘resistant black metal’ scene. he’s expanded Hag Graef’s sonic palette to include elements of grind, d-beat, war metal, and more to yield the closest approximation to aural violence I think I’ve ever heard from a black metal band.

We’re premiering “Arboreal Air Blast” here today at the Vault, which takes aim at a certain strain of atmospheric black metal. It’s straight-up fucking nasty – two-and-a-half minutes of crust-caked Florida death metal that sounds a bit like Altars-era Morbid Angel on a meth binge. Stream it below, but I’d avoid making direct eye contact – if you do, there’s no guarantee it won’t go all Michael Douglass-in-Falling Down on your ass.

When asked for a few words about Bitter Black Tongues, Vvaake said:

What’s the future look like? Look around. Humanity’s a cannibalistic virus. The world is rapidly collapsing. Hellscapes, ash and fire, eternal glowing nuclear existence. Inevitability is a bundle of wooden rods; a skeletal monolith draped in white flags.
For a lot of Anarchist bands there’s this fundamental lack of how to speak the language of Black Metal. They shout slogans and expect it’s enough. Metalheads aren’t looking for that shit. Speak plain; speak the language of the audience. It’s all about war. Bitter Black Tongues demands more of the militant. It demands more than posturing. Flatten talk of trees and bare teeth for war.

Bitter Black Tongues will be available this Friday, August 10. You can either preorder it digitally from Hag Graef’s Bandcamp page here ahead of its release, or be waiting to grab a cassette from Les Fleurs du Mal Productions here when they become available this Friday at 4PM Eastern.

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