Hexen: Being and Nothingness

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Hexen: Being and Nothingness
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Hexen: Being and Nothingness
Melodic Thrash Metal, Progressive Metal
Pulverised Records
May 22nd, 2012
Release length: 54:28
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Hexen is a rather rare breed. The group blends in a modern Melodic Thrash Metal sound with a solid Progressive influence. Of course, since they are a more unique offering, it took a little while to finally get picked up by a label. Formed back in 2003, four demos were issued before Old School Metal, a small label with only seven releases at this time, picked them up in 2008. Roughly four years later, the respectable underground Pulverised Records picked the band up to issue Being and Nothingness. With a larger audience to reach out to, does Hexen put their best foot forward, or does this effort drop the ball?

Being and Nothingness carries a bit of attitude with it that you can easily pick up on, though not afraid to show an artistic Progressive side and digital paintjob. The guitars have that traditional Thrash distortion to them, but end up a bit thin thanks to the clarity, causing them to sound rather empty and weak in the mix, especially at slower speeds. The bass sounds pretty good and rather loud, sometimes going off into a twanging style that really adds necessary richness to the main chords. Unfortunately, the drums greatly vary. The snares sound pretty strong, having a nice thickness that has a slight buried wooden sound to them here and there. Some also have a really loud boom when hit, fitting the tone of the album perfectly. The bass kicks are a rather dull click that works, but can blend in with the snares or be masked by the guitars here and there. The cymbals, unfortunately, are awful. Sometimes they sound fine but a bit distant, and other times sound horribly washed out. The vocals are an energetic deeper rasps and mid-range gutturals that greatly match the often enthusiastic performance by the rest of the band.

“Macrocosm” introduces an atmospheric piece that starts out well with an acoustic guitar eventually joined by the drums, slowly building into a thicker, haunting astral sound with electric guitars that greatly fill the blank spaces. However, around the minute and a half mark, you’re introduced with how the Progressive tendencies of Hexen will end up hurting the album, showing up that weak, emptier, uninspiring sound. You find it again on “Grave New World,” which has the same issues thanks to the slower pace and rather clear production quality. When the music picks up in some bridges, it sounds great, but in the chugging and melodic passages, what energy you wind up with basically stops. It’s clear the song itself isn’t bad with it’s old-school Thrash Metal approach and strong faster paced riffs that sometimes have a little extra complexity, or Crossover attitude when things slow down, but it just becomes too weak to really get into.

“Defcon Rising” rarely goes into as slow a pace. The guitar solo that erupts half way through sounds fantastic and gives a strong atmospheric tone, making the transition to the cleaner acoustic piece that follows more natural. Unfortunately, the solo after it shows the emptiness once more, due to the bass being too weak to carry it alone. Other than that, there is more chugging involved, but the chords are a lot tighter and faster with a dominant bass presence that pushes the melodies forward a lot better, and really aids the energy that the band brings with them. “Walk as Many, Stand as One” is another outstanding track that finds the music a lot thicker for many of the same reasons. The slower guitar solo here is beautiful and moving, finding the louder bass working well to keep the rhythm alive behind it, while the overall speed of the track allows the snares to really stand out against blistering and aggressive Thrash chords with some slight gang chants going on in the background of the chorus to bring a little extra attitude with it. All of these elements are perfectly merged together, and make for one of the more attention grabbing experiences.

But, it isn’t until the very end that Hexen really stand out. “The Nescient” is easily one of the best tracks on the recording, and actually carries a Carcass meets Thrash Metal sound to it. The guitar solos here are not quite as rich, but they still work out thanks to the additional keyboards that come into play, as well as thanks to the raw aggression that simply grabs you by the throat right at the start of the track, and refuses to let go no matter what happens. You’ll find yourself banging you head along throughout the entire track, and the rhaspier vocals are met with a great deal of enthusiasm. The melodies here are fantastic as well, though never quite as moving as with previous songs during the solos to allow the aggression to come through at its best. After that is the fiften minute opus “Nocturne.” There are plenty of extended softer moments at work, but like with “Macrocosm,” they work well with the audio quality. Most of the music does come through as rich Thrash Metal with a strong Progressive tone that keeps it alive and fresh the whole time. This also seems to play out in a concpetual manner thanks to the way the music continues to build up and calm down in line with the lyrics, establishing up a bit of a story concept to it.

Being and Nothingness really starts off rough, but past the first roughly eight minutes, it greatly picks up. There are times where you’ll find the music to be a bit hollow from the problems the audio faces. When the pace picks up and the music gets tighter, a lot of these complications won’t even show, and you’ll find plenty of songs to be solid, enjoyable experiences, getting better the closer you get to the climax. While this really isn’t the greatest album, it’s definitely a unique one that should at least be checked out. It’s undeniable that Hexen still have room to grow, but given the potential that you’ll find here, full maturity is clearly within reach.

01. Macrocosm – 2:36
02. Grave New World – 5:34
03. Defcon Rising – 6:51
04. Private Hell – 3:44
05. Walk as Many, Stand as One – 4:44
06. Stream of Unconsciousness – 4:54
07. Indefinite Archetype – 6:33
08. The Nescient – 4:25
09. Nocturne – 15:07
Overall Score: 7.5/10


Digital review copy of this release provided by Pulverised Records via Earsplit PR.