Saturday, 1 June 2013

Hexen - Being and Nothingness


I think pretty much anyone who likes metal will acknowledge the role that thrash metal's had in forming what we love today. I'm not just talking about the big four here either. There are tonnes of epic thrash bands wherever you look and even after the short lived revival a few years back, we still see new bands coming through the ranks. Hexen are not a new per se, having formed in 2003 but they are worthy of mention. After various demo releases, they appeared on the map in 2008 and debut album State of Insurgency. Later in 2012, with the weight of Pulverised Records behind them, they released Being and Nothingness. They've gone a bit quiet since then, but are still active so may be plotting a return soon. Being and Nothingness features nine songs, including Nocturne, which is fourteen minutes long!

Tracklist:-

1. Macrocosm
2. Grave New World
3. Defcon Rising
4. Private Hell
5. Walk As Many, Stand As One
6. Stream of Unconsciousness
7. Indefinite Archetype
8. The Nescient
9. Nocturne

I've been yearning for the decent thrash metal lately and I think Hexen might be the band to fill that void. Opening instrumental track Macrocosm definitely shows a lot of promise amongst its riffs and harmonies. There's also an interesting fantasy element to their sound and one, which carries on into Grave New World. This is where Hexen's thrash fully kicks in. Amongst the powerful drums and guitar, there are rasping vocals that air on the side of Mille Petrozza from Kreator. The solo in the mid-section of Grave New World is lengthy, but doesn't sound over-played and is exactly want you want to hear from a band of this ilk. The pace of the song switches between an almost punk inspired bounce and a more whirlwind pace, especially when the sweep picking hits the speakers.

One thing that will be noticeable to those of you who like your metal, is how progressive Hexen sound. This isn't straight-up party thrash, as Defcon Rising will attest. There's time changes, shifts in pace and extended instrumental sections, which all count towards a band with great variation. The introspective mid-section reminds you of Metallica, during Nothing Else Matters and actually sounds equally as good in my book. The drums are also a joy to listen to, as they switch between snare-laden blows and double bass sprints. When Hexen follow the out and out thrash path though, they hit the nail on head. Private Hell is more your archetypal song, with solid structure and plenty of headbang inducing moments and plenty of melody. Those progressive sensibilities rear their heads again during Walk As Many, Stand As One thanks to some pretty amazing dual guitar work. Hexen have certainly nailed their sound on this record and it brings a huge smile to your face!

As Streams of Unconsciousness plays you get the sense that the vocals are more aligned to death/thrash than they are to straight thrash metal. They do give the songs an extra bite overall and stop the album from sounding like a self-indulgent prog record. Indefinite Archetype has a sense of sci-fi too it, with it's X-Files inspired intro. The song itself features some off-kilter time signatures and low riffs. This is where the low-end comes into it's own, with a bass heavy sound sitting underneath the vocals. The Nescient feels like a precursor too the mighty last track, Nocturne, but in own right its pure thrashing goodness! And so it's on to that last track. Nocturne is a fourteen minute behemoth, with a sense of rock opera too it as well. The intro lead guitar certainly sounds that way anyway. I didn't want to use comparison/analogy but this is the song that Avenged Sevenfold wishes they could have written!

It's like Hexen have just taken everything from their previous songs and have weaved it all into one mammoth piece, which even when split by instrumental sections that bridge the different parts of the song, still keeps a strong momentum.  It all ends in such majesty with great guitar melodies and choral singing in the background. This is one hell of a record and in spite of Hexen's current quietness, there should be no reason to ignore this. If you like thrash metal and are willing to pay attention to a band that don't do things by the book, Hexen are for you!

Now lucky for you, the whole of Being and Nothingness is streaming via the Pulverised Records bandcamp page. Check it out below:-

You can purchase a digital copy of Being and Nothingness from the Pulverised bandcamp page above or you can head to http://pulverised.bigcartel.com/ to pick up a CD version.

Pulverised Records - https://www.facebook.com/pulverisedrecords
Hexen - https://www.facebook.com/pages/HeXeN/

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