Album Review: HeXen - Being and Nothingness


Mag 5 2012, 4:22

Being and Nothingness
Full Length
Pulverised Records
Thrash Metal

Hexen returns this year after a 4 year period of silence with their latest album, Being and Nothingness, this time under their new label, Pulverised Records. That somewhat futuristic and mystical looking album artwork almost reminded me of that unique (and somewhat disappointing) Conspiracy album, and left me slightly confused, since as far a I remembered, Hexen plays thrash metal rather than some symphonic style, which the album artwork seem to indicate.

Album opener Macrocosm left me even more confused, with the sappy piano and acoustic guitar introduction, but it does not take long for the heaviness to set in as a wall of sound hits the guitar shortly after that intro, albeit with a slight symphonic feel. The mid-pace that the band starts off with is Macrocosm is but a nice appetiser to whet the appetite of the listener, as Grave New World immediately throws the listener into a slab of aggressive thrash metal. The razor sharp riffs, constantly broken by lead guitar licks, the drums of Carlos and that bark of Andre all remind listeners of other such excellent new thrash metal acts as Diamond Plate, though Hexen boasts a ballsier sound, and the anger of Andre definitely shines through his vocals. And of course, there are the cliched thrash metal elements as well, such as the background shoutings and stuff. The intro of Private Hell even has a slight nod to early Metallica material, though this lasts for only a short moment.

Unlike their modern thrash metal counterparts, Hexen attempts to infuse some uniqueness in their music, and this is most evident through the neo-classical elements that are constantly displayed through the shredding style of guitarists Ronny and Artak, often showing off their technical proficiency through precise and accurately executed sweep-pickings, such as on Defcon Rising. One would almost expect that to sound cheesy, but surprisingly this works out nicely on Being and Nothingness, and successfully brings to mind the neo-classical power metal bands that I used to listen to, only with more ferocity here. Certainly, each of the band members handle their instruments superbly. Andre's ability to juggle both the bass and vocals is impressive and Carlos litters the album with technical portions when he is not going on full blast, but it is hard to deny the strength of the guitars in driving the music forward, be it the strong riffs or the melodic yet technical lead guitar works.

Rather than presenting hard-hitting song after song, Hexen constantly injects variation in their music, whether it is through the acoustic section on Defcon Rising or the slower and emotional moments on Walk as Many, Stand as One. The evidence of the band's songwriting ability is perhaps best shown through the epic 15-minute closing track, Nocturne, which despite its rather long length for a thrash metal track, ensures that not a single moment is spent by the listener bored. Being and Nothingness has certainly been well-worth the wait and is a perfect specimen of thrash metal bands of late, managing to give a fresh sound to thrash metal without completely abandoning their old-school roots.

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