Hexenhaus
A Tribute to Insanity


4.5
superb

Review

by Casavir USER (8 Reviews)
January 27th, 2019 | 24 replies


Release Date: 1988 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Sweden’s first thrash metal classic…

Rising from the ashes of the somewhat middling speed metal group, Maninnya Blade, the odds were pretty much stacked against Hexenhaus from the very beginning. Hailing from a country like Sweden where the number of active thrash bands was far lower in the mid to late ‘80s and having to start all over following the breakup of Manninya Blade, a strong first impression had to be made which resulted in one of the most interesting and overlooked thrash metal releases of the time. A melding of both the emerging sounds in thrash of the time and an expert implementation of older sounds in heavy metal from the early ‘80s. With the inclusion of guitarist Mike Wead and drummer Ralph Rydén, A Tribute to Insanity was approached with the mindset of creating an album that was more sinister and ambitious than anything the members of the band had gone for previously. In doing so, they had chosen to combine the crazed, lurching riffing of bands like Destruction and the creeping and elaborate melodies from the likes of earlier traditional metal bands such as Satan and Mercyful Fate. The choice to utilize these influences had been a stroke of genius on the part of the band as they had managed to go together surprisingly well in ways that can become interestingly original.

Mike Wead and Rick Meister’s guitarwork manages to rival the likes of other legendary duos in the genre from which they manage to take inspiration like Hank Shermann and Michael Denner of Mercyful Fate as their combination of Destruction-esque staggering rhythms and searing, ominous guitar harmonies creates an atmosphere of unease and even downright hatefulness. It always constantly keeps listeners tripped up, never keeping them complacent, always making them wonder in the back of their minds how the track will unfold. This goes without mentioning the incredible soloing that litter this thing such as on tracks like Death Walks Among Us, Incubus, Delirious, Requiem and the surprisingly well-executed 10-minute long epic, As Darkness Falls. An immensely admirable performance.

The rhythms set by the bassist Jan Blomqvist and Rydén are also quite formidable with Blomqvist laying down foreboding basslines on tracks such as Eaten Alive and Memento Moris - The Dead are Restless. However, Rydén manages to shine with his drumming here. He supports the efforts of Wead and Meister through establishing dependable grooves for the riffs and melodies to wrap and dance around but also switching between dirge-like slow beats and varied patterns that effectively pace the composition.

While this band doesn’t reach quite reach the progressive aspects of their contemporaries like Coroner, Deathrow, Realm, Destruction, etc., there is a lot of varied and clever writing present that conveys a sense of evil and malice that makes this a thrilling experience throughout. Although, in this band’s use of older influences, their application manages to create sections that would foreshadow and innovate upon later writing by bands such as Nocturnus on their debut album, The Key as can be heard on tracks like As Darkness Falls with its use of keys to accent the dramatic flair of the riffs in certain sections around six minutes in or so. Chances are if you’ve heard The Key, you’ll know it when you hear it and if you haven’t, you will eventually.

There are a few drawbacks to this album and that’s in the production itself and the vocal performance by Nick Johannson, both of which manage to prove to be a double-edged sword in some ways. Not enough to ruin the album, certainly, but it’s worth pointing out regardless. The production manages to enhance the atmosphere that is created by the band’s excellent musicianship with a nice Court in the Act-style haze but a problem is that it kind of obscures Blomqvist more than I’d like. Not entirely but certainly enough for it to be a noticeable flaw. Then, there’s the matter of Nick’s vocals which are actually pretty good and convey the likes of Coroner’s Ron Royce in the best of ways. However, the issue is that while the phrasing on the verses is pretty good, it can get a bit repetitive on some of the tracks in the choruses, which is something I kind of picked up on after a few listens.

While this album has sort of faded into obscurity due to legal issues arising from its album cover that has affected distribution greatly, it is still an album that any fan of heavy metal in general should listen to at some point. A hallmark of Swedish metal and ‘80s thrash.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Casavir
January 27th 2019


3136 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

First review of the year from me. In January, no less. Glad I managed that.

Jacquibim
Staff Reviewer
January 27th 2019


3185 Comments


fuck blessed amirite

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
January 27th 2019


8226 Comments


Great band, good review, pos.

ValenDreth
January 27th 2019


52 Comments


A fine album.

ChaoticVortex
January 27th 2019


752 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great album from an underrated and unique band. Pos.

Casavir
January 27th 2019


3136 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

"fuck blessed amirite"



m/

Darius the Great
January 27th 2019


19902 Comments


Great review for a record I will never listen to!

Casavir
January 27th 2019


3136 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Well, at least you that the review was great so thanks.

Casavir
January 27th 2019


3136 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

As Darkness Falls is a masterpiece.

bloc
January 27th 2019


54697 Comments


Been a while since I last heard this, I remember giving it around a 3.0

Digging: Way Out West - Intensify

Casavir
January 27th 2019


3136 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

You should revisit it tbh

Source
January 27th 2019


9322 Comments


huh this ain't morbid angel

Casavir
January 27th 2019


3136 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

No, it's better.

Source
January 27th 2019


9322 Comments


will listen on youtube

DungeonBoy
January 28th 2019


5582 Comments


Blessed are the sick '88

Digging: Vehemence (FRA) - Par le sang vers

bloc
January 28th 2019


54697 Comments


Son of a gun, this does have the same art as Blessed

SlaveLabor
January 28th 2019


480 Comments


Another case solved, detective.

bloc
January 28th 2019


54697 Comments


Now onto the mystery of the messed up join date:comment count ratio for user SlaveLabor!

Casavir
January 28th 2019


3136 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

"Son of a gun, this does have the same art as Blessed"



Sucks that the use of it kind of diminished how available this album as it hasn't been reissued since 1990.

bloc
January 28th 2019


54697 Comments


They could just change the art no? Wouldn't be the first time a remaster did that



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