Review Summary: Hexen progress further than most of their contemporaries in the thrash pack with one of the more impressive thrash albums this year.
While several other thrash bands of recent times have attempted to recreate the sounds of the 80s thrash bands, such as Battalion, Fueled By Fire, Savage Messiah, and Rumpelstiltskin Grinder, Hexen's State Of Insurgency
album demonstrated a series of strengths that its rivals couldn't quite deliver, with a decent amount of melody, dynamics, and a clear influence from more traditional speed metal rather than shelling out rather generic modern thrash, which, lets face it, is being simply reiterated fairly regularly by many modern thrash bands. Following this Hexen has returned with the polished Being And Nothingness
, an impressive work that combines progressive styles with technical thrash and speed metal to create of the more impressive thrash albums this year.
One serious area of improvement over State Of Insurgency
is the quality of the musicianship. One fault of the prior album was the vocals, which felt uncontrolled and aggressive but unimpressive and irritating which deteriorated from the albums strengths. Here, Andre Hartoonian's vocals are more controlled and overall more listenable, and while not exactly outstanding they certainly don't detract from the experience, sounding akin to the vocals of Tom Angelripper of Sodom. His bass work is also respectable and is consistently audible in the mix, while guitarists Ronny Dorian and Artak Tavaratsyan perform complex riffs and solos with a more consistent sense of melody than other modern thrash bands. Carlos Cruz, of Warbringer fame, also provides a respectable performance on the drums, with a mix of powerful double bass and slower playing with a greater deal of power than his contemporaries.
Being And Nothingness
does feature a great deal of progressive elements, with occasional keys and acoustic moments, which could have gone poorly should the rest of the albums major elements have not supported them. Luckily, the thrashier moments of this album are prominent and effective, with Walk As Many, Stand As One
opening in blazing fashion and Grave New World
effectively using thrashing riffs without sacrificing the melodic elements of the songs. However, the spacey opener Macrocosm
, closer Nocturne
, Private Hell
, and Defcon Rising
provide progressive features akin and technical moments akin to early 90s Annihilator, which work well rather than falling in awkwardly due to the prominent melodic elements in other songs. The aforementioned closer Nocturne
provides probably the most obvious progressive elements with an acoustic section
and several changes in pace, but avoids dragging by providing sufficient variety to drive the song.
Overall this album is more impressive than one would perhaps expect with the waves of thrash bands currently around releasing indistinct works, but this surprisingly works significantly better than most other with high velocity guitars and drums effectively balanced by variation in tone and tempo.
Grave New World
Walk As Many, Stand As One