Saturday, May 05, 2012

Hexen-Being And Nothing


I wasn't sure what to expect with Hexen. Sure, the name sounded familiar. Before doing a search though I gave the album a listen. After a rather timid piano opening Hexen starts off into this almost groove based rocker. Ok. Well, so far not so good. At this point I am not too hopeful. Thankfully things pick up. The sound is partway between thrash and neoclassical speed. They call it progressive thrash though. It's certainly heavy and crunchy enough and yet it sounds very technical and classical. I sort of imagine this is what it would sound like if Metallica (around "Justice..." time), Atheist, Sadus and the record label Shrapnel were all morphed into one hideous monster baby. By the time "Being And Nothing" finishes up I'm more than satisfied. It has proven to be an album both heavy and technical. It's filled with insane solos, harsh vocals and crunchy thrash. I'm relieved that I can now do a quick search on the band having promised myself that I would listen all the way through first. So, one quick search later and I can finally place the name. The Los Angeles based band, formed in 2003, gave the world "State of Insurgency". That album received mostly rave reviews and featured some old-school style album art. It was the album art that I remembered so well as it lovingly paid homage to the artwork of old. With the new album the stakes are bound to be higher. At that end Hexen opted for artwork that is a bit more "classy". The artwork is a hand-painted cover by metal illustrator Kristian Wåhlin/Necrolord (King Diamond, Dissection, Emperor, etc.) and, the more I think about it, does represent the music hidden inside. Album number two for Hexen is dark and demanding while still rooted in the classic thrash of old. So the artwork should be a bit more mysterious and sinister right? This is another album that requires repeated listens because they pack so much into such a short amount of space. You have to give Hexen credit as they are not afraid to experiment on their sophomore release. As I hit YouTube, to listen to album number one, the growth is evident. Compared to "State of Insurgency" it sounds more mature and thought out. While "State of Insurgency" is like mere retro-thrash worship (although good retro-thrash worship at that) on "Being And Nothing" the band has evolved into something special. If this is only album number two for the band imagine what their genius can accomplish by album number three!

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