Review Summary: Auto-erotic asphyxiation without the climax.
If Denmark’s Hexis
can be commended for anything on their debut full-length Abalam
, it would be their keen ability to craft a suffocating introduction. The one-two sucker punch that opens the album forces the listener’s gullet wide open and fills their lungs with the band’s thick concoction of blackened sludge. Indeed, the gritty influences of black metal and hardcore permeate these two tracks, as “Faciem” broods and builds like an oncoming freight train before erupting into the unbridled assault of “Tenebris.” A wall of distorted guitar haze creates the arena walls as blistering double-bass drums pelt the battlefield, all while vocalist Filip narrates the event with his grubby squawk. The tone set by these two tracks insinuates an enormous build that are a mere warm up for an upcoming flurry of speed and intensity to come.
But then…it doesn’t. And then…it still doesn’t.
It’s difficult to accurately portray this critique; it’s probably best described not as a flaw of the album, but rather how the album is somewhat misleading. Each one of these tracks feels like an immaculate interlude or grimy song passage that would stand out on any release in a related genre, which is further suggested by the fact that nine of the album’s thirteen tracks are around or below two minutes in length. Because of this, most of the album feels like potential energy awaiting its kinetic release, and unfortunately, that release never entirely arrives. Not that this albums necessarily needs speed; each of these tracks is fantastic just the way it is. But the nature of each track seems to suggest that something else is on its way, and because of this, the tracks as a whole feel somewhat atonal.
In short, the anticipation becomes exhausting, and moments like the excellent nine minute closer “Inferis” feel slightly less apocalyptic than it actually is due to it feeling like a slight rehash. On Whether or not Abalam
is worth checking out, the answer is a “yes” without question. Despite Hexis
’ debut coming with a bit of fatigue, it’s a masochistic wooziness worth enduring for at least a couple of spins.