Scratch the surface of metal’s dark underbelly, and there are plenty of treasures to be found. Lately there have been a surprising proliferation of solo projects, quietly blossoming like night-blooming flowers with sudden, arresting displays of exquisite dusky-hued iridescence. With just one person involved, there’s no bickering with bandmates, no creative differences about direction and no manoeuvring of busy schedules to get in the way of pure imagination - often resulting in more inventive, experimental material. And with the increasing sophistication of recording software, any independent spirits who can furnish themselves with the appropriate kit can grasp this golden opportunity to forge their own creative destiny.
Dark Matter’s latest serendipitous discovery is one-man enterprise Haissem. Founded in 2016 by Andrey Tollock, Haissem is one of Ukraine’s more unusual exports. A talented multi-tasker, Andrey’s main focus is melodic black metal but he also works on doom/death project Sunset Forsaken on the side, which is seriously worth checking out, and under this dual guise has already released two albums ‘Maze of Perverted Fantasies’ and ‘Panacea for a Cursed Race’ as well as EP ‘Hatavism’. His latest compilation album, ‘Demonotone’, moves towards more of a death metal flavour, features guest vocalists Bredor and Datura and is a remarkably accomplished achievement to say he’s done most of it off his own bat.
As ‘Demonotone’ begins it is clear that Haissem has carefully considered the listening experience and taken great pains to craft atmosphere. For those who appreciate a good intro, the extended creepy sound-effect that is 'Hornography' is laden with suitably ominous dread. Next comes 'Recursion', opening with pure, satisfying, doom-laden knells, before launching into terrifyingly deep growls, reverberating through the frightened soul like the grumblings of deadly beast rudely stirred from slumber. 'Internal Void' is the most traditionally death metal-minded track, and falls like a storm of hammers, pummelling the ears with riffs that drag like the cross carried by the condemned. 'H.A.T.E (Humans Are The Epigones)' is all heavy rock guitar solos and throaty death vocals, while 'Through Insomnia' lurches between fast-paced percussion and steadier, extended riffs like a demented, demon-possessed wind-up doll. 'The Shadowhunt' rounds off the proceedings with more of a black metal inspired symphony, sumptuous with dark chords and infernal vocals diving into deeper and murkier dips and troughs. The album closes with twanging strings that spread like slowly spreading ink blots, reflecting the uneasy seeping blackness that has permeated the whole.
Unlike many similar, yet ultimately ill-fated solitary initiatives, Haissem’s undoubted talent and tenacity guarantees his staying power. Bury your face in this dark bouquet, flourishing alone in the rocky wastes, and enjoy being smothered in its musky embrace.
For more on Haissem, check out www.facebook.com/haissemband