As a progressive metal aficionado, there also is life beyond my beloved genre. One of the musical styles that has a special spot is fusion, guitar driven, technical and dedicated. For this review, I guess two preferred musical styles are combined in a very fine band: Hago.
To introduce the band we have to take a step back to an amazing release from not that long ago; Distorted Harmony's A Way Out (2018, see review). Both drummer Yogev Gabay and guitar player Yoel Genin are members of Hago as well as Distorted Harmony. Other Hago members are saxophone player Nery Zidon, keyboard player Tom Bar and bass player Guy Bernfeld.
Hago kicks off with a short guitar driven part; Past Forward, creating a nice and especially dark atmosphere, hunches of electronics and fusion are already shown. With Ezekiel 1.4 the aforementioned Distorted Harmony reference shows in the great massive guitar riffs. But it is mainly because of the dominant bass and über jazzy sax, a progressive combination of prog and fusion is accomplished. A more adventurous version of Panzerballett comes to mind; read, more diversity, more influences of different genres are blended in. Especially for those who love a great keyboard player in a jazzy environment should take a listen to this track. The track with the amazing title Gefilte Kabab brings us to an experimental jazz fusion composition. Where both guitar, as well as bass take the lead in the first section. Moving further into the song the atmosphere changes into an almost traditional klezmer part, the traditional clarinet has been traded in for a brilliant guitar, making this one extra special. Ancient Secrets is one of the slower modest compositions, driven by smooth guitars, keyboards and some prominent solo bass playing. This song creates a serene ambiance. It is in the second part of the song a heavy sounding guitar enters and accompanies the smooth piano. Making my day, because for me the combination of a simple piano in combination with a distorted guitar is probably the best thing ever. Rain is a short percussive interlude, waiting for the thunder to come. Not quite thunder is Shdemati that follows, but a Hebrew sung vocal composition. The instrumental parts are amazing, I guess you do have to like the vocal style, which is not entirely my cup of tea, but the brilliant saxophone versus heavy guitar part does make up a lot making this another fine track. Dawn Of Machine is another tension building composition, electronics driven with fine guitar parts, grooving percussive parts and solid keyboards. A track with a nice heavy end. The conversational parts at the beginning of Alpha Centauri
are nicely building up to the entrance of a fine bass, great keys and guitars. Again the sax in combination with the heavy parts reminds of Panzerballet, but the outcome is a thorough, dedicated track, uniting progressiveness with fusion, traditional elements and more. Aurora is a scenically spheric experience, filled with smooth parts, delicate vocals, jazzy sax and a pretty heavy distorted guitar driven powerful end. After the interlude Clockwork, it's time for Antikythera; brilliant threatening piano parts go hand in hand with massive riffs and a playful saxophone. Zappa references all over the place in this wild dynamic composition with great piano parts. When you think you have heard it all; enter Tralfamadore. Here the band gets help from a sting ensemble, trumpets and more. The result is a brilliant progressive composition, where the guitar still occasionally takes the lead, but the saxophone and keyboards are leading. A special mention for the wonderful drum grooves during this absolute highlight of the album.
Ok, when you are convinced to purchase the Hago album, you will be amazed by the beauty of the compositions, the variation in the music and the absolute craftmanship of each individual musician that participated. For me the combination of progressive rock/metal and fusion, enhanced with other influences has really worked out well. A big recommendation to musical fans of both mentioned genres.
****+ Pedro Bekkers (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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