With May’s II: For Mankind, Haast’s Eagled’s second full-length, the Welsh doom purveyors have shown themselves capable of a calibre of noise on a par with legends such as Sleep and Yob, but also at putting their own unique stamp on a genre that is, with its recent influx of activity, somewhat in danger of stagnating.
Despite plenty of moments of peacefulness not usually associated with doom’s heavier acts, Haast’s Eagled are a menacing trio of distinct power, with a predatory instinct much like the extinct eagle after which they are named, which was the biggest to ever exist. Said eagle is said to have fed on animals the size of cars, so suitably, Haast’s Eagled’s riffs are gnarly slabs of incomprehensibly heavy savagery.
As one of doom’s most exciting bands in a burgeoning scene, we wanted to discover more about the Newport triad, so asked them some quick questions in the wake of their imposing second album.
In what ways would you say Haast’s Eagled has progressed since the self-titled debut?
This question isn’t really the best for me to comment on due to only being involved with the band from writing II: For Mankind. This second record became a bit of let’s play whatever felt right in the practice room and in the studio. The whole process of the album was just getting used to playing with each other and playing with the sound created from the first line up. I feel it’s a natural progression for the band comparing it to the first release.
Was the experimentation (sax solos et al) on ‘II: For Mankind’ a planned route or did it happen more naturally?
We have discussed the band having an open door policy with different instrumentalists/musicians playing on our releases. Adam had few friends in mind and he mentioned getting Joshua Jones to play some Saxophone and we went for it. We’re all really happy with how it sounds. I hope we can get more experimental with future material by introducing some interesting instruments.
What are some of the themes and lyrical meanings running through the album’s four tracks? For example, you’ve previously said that ‘Pyaaz Bhonghi’ has a similar concept to Sleep’s Dopesmoker, is that true?
With ‘Pyaaz Bhonghi’ I was talking another level of shit at band practice. Super stoned and showing off. I asked what Onion translated too in Urdu, which is pyaz. During the writing process the track was code named Pyaz Bhaji/O Bhaji. Due the stoned nature of the band most of the time, Bhaji turned into bhonghi and pyaz got lost in translation during finalizing the album track names. I kind of liked it so I didn’t mention anything at the time. Keep it wavy.
From that the lyrics were written about a stoned traveling man walking through the desert with a fat sack of marijuana, a weedian rip off or homage, however you look at it. Sleep are one of the best bands ever so no apologies. Hungry, dehydrated etc, the traveling man meets Pyaaz and learns about the importance the elements of life and caring for the world around us. If I’m honest it’s all a load of bullshit but we enjoyed creating the folklore that is now the almighty wisdom of Pyaaz Bhonghi.
‘The Uncle’ ended up being written about – and questioning – the acceptance of paedophilia within politics, religion and the BBC. We got the track played on the BBC radio one rock show a few weeks back due it being our shortest and most ‘radio friendly’ track. We were happy with that result.
Zoltar was Adam’s creation; I can imagine everyone thinks of the film BIG starring Tom Hanks. Sadly it’s not about that, this was written about a man on a time traveling suicide mission pretty much. Where do you want to die? If you could die anywhere, at any point in history what would you do? Imagine a Zoltar style machine that could take you on that adventure.
With White Dwarf this was version 2793.9 of this song Joe and Adam had been working on this with former bass player Greg before I joined. The rest of the band just wanted to get it written and recorded before it became a 4-hour concept album. It ended up being an ode to the end of all things. Not much more to it than that.
There a lot more doom metal bands around nowadays, do you think it’s good to see or somewhat ruins the whole underground vibe of the genre? Who are your favourite doom metal bands at the moment?
It’s great for me this little boom in doom. I get to see loads of bands I missed out on because I was even born or too young and pre-Internet, etc. Seeing Saint Vitus play all of born too late on a 30-year anniversary tour blown my mind. I remember being on tour with an old band smoking dirty bottle bongs on deck chairs in a garage hearing that album for the first time, seeing that hard as nails pink cover. Man, it sent me west in a good way never looked back. So that stuff makes me happy. I have no problem with new bands coming through, everything musically has a snowball effect on people. We’re riding that snowball all the way down the hill. Keep the riff alive.
With there being such a big scene, it can be hard to stand-out, was this something you thought about beforehand? Is this how the various experimentations on II: For Mankind came about?
If I’m honest I’ve never expected to this band to break through into any scene, it’s all about playing and writing together in Newport, living the dream. Every little helps when it comes to people supporting the band and it does mean a lot. I think that’s because we didn’t expect anything. Infinite thanks to Phil at One Louder Studios and the people at Holy Roar Records for helping out too. I guess they helped a lot more than we’ve helped ourselves.
The record seems to have a lot of depth that rewards repeated listening; did you aim for this when writing?
We aimed to make it less repetitive than the previous S/T release but like I’ve mentioned we went in with loads of riffs and filled all the gaps until we ran out of time. I think this ethos of organized chaos we went into the studio with helped achieve that accidental need to replay the album. II: For Mankind doesn’t feel and flow as naturally as most modern records do recently.
At some point during recording, we’d all look around and just keep playing… There’s one heavy section in there, it’s pretty sparse with Joe just playing whilst me and Adam just rode the warmth of the amps we got to record with. The reason for this was to work out what was next whilst recording live. We all liked it in the end so it made the record.
Some reviews have mentioned the ‘emotional’ element of your music; do you think this is something most doom bands stray away from? If so why do you think this is the case?
All music has some sort of emotion, it’s just we’ve stepped into addressing a few emotional sounds that just don’t make it through into modern music. Well not as much as it should. Everyone should play what’s right for them, sad, happy, brutal whatever. Even slam and goregrind bands party with euro dance music in-between the brutal songs. No boundaries, no masters play the riff if it’s right.
What have you got planned for the near future?
Be sound people, smoke, riff, more releases, we plan to do at least one release a year for our own sanity we have too many ideas for songs sometimes. We’ve started the third project and it’s the best stuff we’ve ever written in my opinion, it’s getting a bit more technical and not as repetitive but still holds the Haast’s Eagled sound from the last two releases.
You can read the full interview with Haast’s Eagled in Issue 1 of Astral Noize. Check it out here.
Words: George Parr