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There is no doubt that Joe Hasselvander was the one who created 'Review Your Choices' and 'Sub-Basement'. Unfortunately both Pentagram albums are criminally underappreciated and I do not know why that is. For my part, I have always been a fan of Joe Hasselvander's signature heavy tone that had already been looming on his first solo albums 'Lady-Killer' and 'Road Kill'. And even the last Blue Cheer record 'What Doesn't Kill You' cannot deny that Joe Hasselvander was part of the line-up. However, all this is a thing of the past and shall not be the topic of my review. It is therefore about time to draw our attention to the new album of THE HOUNDS OF HASSELVANDER, which has been released at the end of 2011 by Black Widow and Bloodrock Records.

As before, Joe Hasselvander is responsible for all instruments except for the bass which is handled by no other than Martin Swaney (ex-Death Row/Pentagram). In addition, there is Eric 'Orion' Cabana who replaces Martin Swaney on two tracks. The line-up is complemented by Wicked Minds keyboarder Paolo 'Apollo' Negri, and ready is one of the best doom metal albums I've heard in a long time. This does not surprise me, because Mr. Hasselvander knows his craft. 'The Ninth Hour' is packed with crushing killer riffs from start to finish, not forgetting the well-elaborated song structures. Furthermore, it is diversified and THE HOUNDS OF HASSELVANDER don't give a damn for worn out doom cliches. Even the slow parts on this album are compelling and eclectic. The spirit of the 1970's is omnipresent, but that does not imply that Joe Hasselvander has anything in common with the current retro fashion. First and foremost 'The Ninth Hour' sounds through and through like THE HOUNDS OF HASSELVANDER.

The overall tone is thick and heavy and the entire dark atmosphere is absolutely captivating. In contrast to slower tracks as 'Relentless Soul' or the title track, there are thunderous up-tempo cuts such as 'Heavier Than Thou' or the excellent Mountain cover 'Don't Look Around'. Needless to say that the musicianship is top-notch, which causes a relentless intensity. Most of the songs have complex arrangements while remaining tuneful and catchy. All things considered, this album is mandatory for anyone who loves heavy music that is drenched in darkness, filth and doom. Now we just have to wait for a European tour of THE HOUNDS OF HASSELVANDER, because it would have been a shame if that does not happen. So, if you're a fan of high-quality doom than 'The Ninth Hour' is a must-have.