Review Summary: A much needed breathe of fresh air for an increasingly generic genre.
It would seem as if thrash metal as a whole has not seen an original idea since the early 90’s. Old school veterans of the scene spit out the same material every year or so, and the revival thrash bands do their best to emulate their influences with creativity and originality taking a distinctive back seat. Inevitably though, if one is to look hard enough and seek out new music, you will stumble upon thrash bands like Hexen. Branded with the Revival/New-Wave label, the band hails from Los Angeles California, and has been active since 2003. Hexen has more or less successfully established themselves as one of the few creative players still leading the charge in the aging thrash scene, although it would seem their music has largely fallen on deaf ears around here.
It is important to remember that Hexen is a thrash band, and therefore they have all the conventional elements a thrash metal band would normally have; Confrontational and often times’ harsh vocals backed by excessive riffing and soloing, fast drumming, and slightly audible bass. However that’s not all this band has to offer. Backing their solid musical base is inventive and intricate guitar work with a melodic and progressive edge. The drumming is also quite exceptional, with many extensive and innovative drum fills spicing up the album in just the right places. The album even contains a few ambient keyboards and synthesizers here and there that in no way detract from the album, but instead compliment the music in just the right way. One would even go so far as to call certain parts of this album technical thrash, as the band utilizes more demanding and challenging instrumentals than the majority of their contemporaries. Due the creative nature of Hexen, this album is still an interesting listen even after several spins, and the tracks flow together effortlessly.
The album does of course wilt in a couple places. Vocals are pretty typical, with harsh vocals dominating the album and absolutely no clean singing or pitch change the entire record. It goes without saying that this method of vocalizing has been way overdone in the past and remains quite generic. The bass also takes a distinctive back seat, as it is lost in the mix and can only be heard clearly with a good set of headphones. The band also decided to include a fifteen minute closer to the album, and while it does indeed contain some of the albums best moments, any fifteen minute track is hard for new listeners to swallow. This is par for the course, as nearly every moment of the album is essential to the listener’s enjoyment, and despite a few longer tracks, the band wasted no time as they crammed the tracks full of creative songwriting.
Aside from a couple short comings, this album breathes fresh air into a stale and admittedly generic genre. While most certainly not a perfect effort, this album is sure to please metal fans with an ear for creativity and technicality. This is still a young band and they have plenty of room to grow and mature. This is quite s sophomoric effort, and I eagerly await their next effort with growing impatience.