Review Summary: A wandering through the outreaches of blackened metal leaves the listener with certain anticipation.
More often than not, modern day metal is as come and go as daily singles found on a favourite radio station. Regardless of the matter, most are looking for metal that’s engaging, mildly innovative and is the right amount of intensity, atmosphere and ‘heaviness’ (especially when it comes to the more ‘extreme’ side of metal). From time to time those who listen to blackened metal, that unspecific term gets thrown about all too often and often to ill effect. Despite the vague umbrella term, “blackened” comes as a pretty great descriptor for Denmark’s Hexis. The band’s 2014 record, Abalam
is a sludgy, gritty industrial affair built from the foundations of black metal and grind and what it lacks in original ideas it makes up for in atmosphere and presence. But with most good comes some disappointment. Abalam
makes an impression but doesn’t build on the impact it has made for itself. The quality to be found in the record comes in its sweet brevity. The effect: the stranglehold on your throat releases before complete asphyxiation.
Despite being such a short release, Hexis still manage to squeeze twelve tracks down the throat of the listener in just over twenty-six minutes. It’s galvanizing to say the least that Abalam
can accomplish something more than the initial effect. The album itself needs to be listened to again and again to be understood properly, let alone absorbed to a point of appreciation. Abalam
is a dark, twisted outlay of industrialized black metal. It grinds on in torment, directing the album’s atmosphere in one sensational direction. Take the title track for example; it’s far from the longest track on the record but it showcases the band’s natural carminative, slamming energy before leading into another forward thinking track. For those unfamiliar with this band, the instrumental and vocal aspects meet the stereotypes perfectly. Snarling (mostly unintelligible) screams punch over the layers of distorted guitars and pummeling double bass passages.
Hexis will at times see like the run of the mill grinding black metal waiting for an opening slot on the world stage. Those with the same perception may be hindered by the fact that this group will let up instead of smothering the listener with a methane soaked pillow. It’s okay that Hexis don’t push the envelope too hard; it stops them from becoming overbearing or a walking, talking cliché. There’s no need for a climax as the band is constantly on a crescendo, at least til the album runs its course. Overall Abalam
is a great album for the modern era of extreme blackened metal hailing from hardcore roots. Hexis has achieved a solid record where its flaws are far outweighed by the positives. Repeated listens sees better results and Abalam
is another album worthy to be checked out early in the year.