The Hounds of Hasselvander: “The Hounds of Hasselvander” CD

Whilst Joe continued to jam, record and tour into the new millennium, the urge to create his own vision must have been burning inside. Given the wide range of musical networks at his fingertips it may appear strange that he struck out alone when he did. Perhaps that was justification enough. Hasselvander time! To fathom this humble self-titled album, cast an eye over his colourful career. This is very much an honest portrayal of those roots distilled in the here and now. As a result, it carries a classic and aged sensibility like the man himself. More than that though, it is remarkable how full, fluid and fresh it feels. ‘70s Hard Rock, ‘80s Heavy Metal and Doom combined in one man across multiple unifying performances. Surely this is a band, right? Excluding the fleeting rumble of an introduction, the record is built around seven expansive songs all bar one weighing in above six minutes. Not that lengthy is the predominant impression because he does incorporate plenty of hooks and choruses throughout whether it be the short and snappy “Pull The Switch” at the beginning or “The Fallen” colossus at the end. The former, autobiographical as it is and sung with conviction, struts and grooves with an apt parting lead break flourish. “She Serpent” is upbeat too with the rolling drums, playful vocals and vintage fretwork. I love how the thrust of “On Her Way” unintentionally reminds me of Mirage’s 7” single. The softer chorus is very different though. Compare that to the superbly strangled warning in “Last Call” which might be a bastard hybrid of Bobby, Wino and Fodde! Partial to dynamics, “Seen The Light” is the most muscular on display albeit with melodic licks and again a gentler chorus. I defy you not to delight in the riff rock routine of “Take Up Your Cross” that morphs into a Doom plod precursor to the closing behemoth. Sadly, I imagine, this album will continue to fly below the radar. Regardless of his talent, Joe Hasselvander is just not hip enough on (virtual) paper to attract attention. He will not lose sleep. But anybody who listens to Pentagram on any regular basis or those with discerning taste should not be disappointed with The Hounds. Back the underdog!

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