Edinburgh-based progressive black metallers Haar turned heads in the UK scene when they emerged in 2010. And they built on that success with their acclaimed debut album, 2015’s The Wayward Ceremony.
But it’s been a long wait for new music from the Scottish act.
On the eve of the band’s show at Newcastle’s Little Buildings – their first live appearance in more than two years – bassist Steve Shanks sheds some light on what’s been happening in the Haar camp… and what we can expect in 2022.
RUSHONROCK: It’s been seven years since the release of your debut album, The Wayward Ceremony and six years since the split EP with Australia’s Ur Draugr. How has the band evolved since then?
Steve Shanks: It’s definitely been a period of change!
Unfortunately, he and Ross (Oliver Vacivus/Risen Prophecy guitarist) were too busy with other commitments and eventually had to part ways.
Thankfully Gerald (Gendo Ikari) got in touch with us. He’s a great guitarist and he’s also based in Edinburgh, so we were able to get back to working on new material fairly quickly.
Our sound has continued to progress as we’ve improved as musicians and songwriters.
The new material is still recognisable as Haar, but we’ve been able to push ourselves into more complex and interesting territory this time around.
It’s a bit of a cliché, but we feel our second album is genuinely the best material we’ve written to date.
RUSHONROCK: You have nearly finished recording your second album. What can we expect from it?
Steve Shanks: We approached the new album as a whole, with an overarching narrative that spans the seven songs.
The music is very much an evolution of what’s gone before: black metal that borrows ideas from several other sub-genres and isn’t afraid to experiment.
The aforementioned narrative is two stories told in parallel – the first being the various stages of the last glacial period, the latter dealing with trauma and recovery.
We’re once again working with the super-talented Costin Chioreanu, who has excelled in capturing the story and feel we’re trying to portray.
RUSHONROCK: How did Haar cope through the Coronavirus pandemic. And how did it affect the creation of your second album?
Steve Shanks: We’ve all been pretty cautious throughout the pandemic, which meant there was a long period where we weren’t able to rehearse or gig.
We had just finished recording drums when the pandemic started and we were able to get set up for recording guitars and bass remotely, but that still took a long time to finish.
Vocals were recorded at a studio in Leeds, so were delayed a long time due to travel restrictions.
On the plus side, this has given us time to focus on writing material for our third album!
RUSHONROCK: Along with a host of metal acts, you contributed to Rage, Rage Against The Dying Of The Hungry’s The Last Supper compilation in 2020, which raised money to support charities tackling food poverty. How important is this cause to you?
Steve Shanks: The cost of living in the UK continues to increase, so it’s more important now than ever!
Unfortunately it’s an issue that seems to be ignored by many.
It was refreshing to be part of a community of like-minded bands who wanted to make a bit of a difference.
RUSHONROCK: The UK black metal scene feels very vibrant. What is your take on the current scene… and the fact that so many new BM bands have emerged over the last few years?
Steve Shanks: Because of all the cancelled gigs in the pandemic, it’s easy to feel a little disconnected from the wider scene, so we’re maybe not best placed to comment.
That said, there are some great bands in the UK: Nemorous who we’re playing with in Newcastle, but also Vacivus, Deus Vermin, Trio HSK, Decoherence, Palus Somni, Carcinoma and Ninkharsag.
RUSHONROCK: Have any new Scottish bands caught your attention?
Steve Shanks: Aristarchos are well worth checking out, as well as more established bands like Black Talon, Of Spire & Throne, King Witch, Scordatura, Iniquitous Savagery and Lunar Mantra.
RUSHONROCK: What can fans expect from your Newcastle show on April 22?
Steve Shanks: The new album is all but complete, so we thought we’d take the opportunity to play the majority of it.
We’ve played some of the tracks at previous gigs, but this will be the first time we’ve presented it as a whole.
RUSHONROCK: What about the future of Haar? Where do you want to take the band?
Steve Shanks: Once this album is released we’ll be looking to tour again. We’d love to get over to Europe, so that will likely be the next big task.
In the meantime we’re already working on the next album, with about four songs nearing completion at this point.
Hopefully it won’t be quite as long a wait for this one!
Haar play at The Little Buildings, Newcastle upon Tyne with Nemorous on April 22.