British alternative rock is in a very healthy state right now and that is destined to continue for a long time when you have bands like Hagana emerging to powerfully and potently engage the imagination. Hailing from Edinburgh, the trio of Leo Fox (guitar/vocals), David Chisholm (drums/vocals) and Gary Pycroft (bass) make their introduction to the wider corners of the country with debut album One Year, an eleven track sinew fest of contagious and passion driven rock ‘n’ roll. With an enterprise to match its energy and strong diversity, the album makes a refreshing and promise filled encounter from an emerging band with very healthy horizons.
Hagana merge essences of grunge and pop rock into their feisty endeavours, pulling on influences which they say include bands such as early Foo Fighters/Nirvana, Weezer, Queens of the Stone Age, XTC, and Cardiacs, the last two real favourites here which gave the band a head start on appreciation before a sound teased the ears to be honest. Since forming the band has earned a strong reputation for their live performances regionally as well as drawing good acclaim from their self-titled first EP. The current line-up came together in 2011 after the EP and you sense this was when the spark for a wider spotlight began brewing its intensity. 2013 saw the band touring Western Canada as well as supporting Filter back home and now with One Year about to unveil its contagious hooks and barbs it is easy to suspect that Hagana are ready to take the next tall step in their ascent.
From the decent enough atmospheric Intro, the band rip through the ears with craft and fervour through Voice For The Voiceless. The track takes a mere second to unload thumping rhythms and aggressive riffs, their invitation a instantly alluring provocation which settles as the vocals of Fox makes, alongside Chisholm’s, a similarly pleasing appearance. It is not long before the chorus is romping around with infectiousness dripping off its every note, the virulent temptation a mix of nineties UK band Skyscraper and Foo Fighters with the growling intensity of Therapy? adding to the bait. It is an outstanding start and doorway into Hagana, an immediate declaration of what armoury and adventure the band has within them.
Previous single Fuzzy Punch comes next, its pop spawned enterprise less dramatic and forceful but not short on its own brewed addictiveness. Carrying a fuzzy breath to its charm and catchy gait, the song raucously dances with the ears, interspersing the stomp with a pop punk vivacity which adds to the lure of the encounter. Its irrepressible presence is next matched by the excellent Trousernose and its grunge bred tantalising. Again there is a virulently contagious incitement from the hooks and chorus, their wanton desires perfectly placed within a Nirvana-esque stroll of bulky rhythms and hungry riffs resulting in another irresistible baiting of the passions.
The following Watch My Step merges power pop with hard rock to sculpt a song which takes longer to convince than its predecessors but emerges as an easily accessible and enjoyable if underwhelming venture before being left in the shade by the twin triumphs of Seaquest and Sparrowface. The first of the two prowls around the ears initially, its riffs leaning towards a predacious appetite whilst the rhythms equally provide a sinewed texture. Never breaking from that deliberately intimidating stance, the track pressures the senses with a preying intensity tempered skilfully by the harmonic vocals, it’s almost sixties pop enticement as potent as the musculature framing its call. Its successor is a maze of invention and imagination, a mischievous web of punk and rock again with a loud grunge coating to the magnetic causticity wrapping its pop spawned heart.
Things take another leap forward with Wait A Minute, a riot of a song with swinging muscular hips and bruising intent. A charge of punk ‘n’ roll with a slither of rockabilly and hard rock to its voracious emprise, the track is a glorious slice of epidemically seducing heavy rock whose only flaw is it ends too soon. Its outstanding body is backed up by the equally striking Candy Boy, the song a raw, scuzz bled antagonist to keep the fires in the passions greedily aflame. That Therapy? comparison emerges here again as a loud whisper within another punk/grunge abrasion.
The album is completed by the deceptive Friend, a song which makes an understated and less persuasive entrance but leaves with voice and emotions eagerly engaged and finally Connect 4. The closing song is a heavy rock bruising to leave things on another high, its body old school but with a combative attack of modern rock ‘n’ roll. The song completes an excellent first full-length from a band drenched in promise and potential. Hagana have cast a thoroughly thrilling and accomplished net with their rather impressive debut, one enlisting an extensive appetite and anticipation of their future,
Hagana will host an album launch party on Saturday 1st March at Opium, Edinburgh with support from local Kraut-rockers Birdhead and Dundee’s The Sparrowhawk Orkestrel.
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