Hexxen - Hexxecution
Heavy / Power Metal
5 songs (23'47)
Release year: 2007
Reviewed by Marty
Hexxecution is the third demo to be recorded by the Stockholm, Sweden based band Hexxen. I haven't heard their other two demos After Devastation (2004) and Restoring Bridges, Breaking Armour (2005) but the band's bio states that Hexxecution marks a push towards a more aggressive and heavy sound. The band has a new drummer this time around with Peter Ostlund bringing the kind of talent needed for them to pursue faster and more progressive material.

The Intro that begins this demo shows the band's sense of humour with a sinister sounding narrative dealing with dwarves, elves and dragons that takes more than a couple parting shots at Rhapsody (Rhapsody of Fire). Things get underway with Fast As Hell, a track that features more of an American power metal sound comprised of galloping riffs, solid use of hammering double bass and lots of guitar harmonies. The sudden stops and changes in tempo are testament to the band's fondness of classic metal in the vein of Iron Maiden and Mercyful Fate. The "shouting" vocal style of Jacob Holmstrom adds a slight aggressive overtone to their music without being too harsh. Fierce Conclusion gets into the heaviness after a quiet and sombre intro and melds into a mix of mid tempo and speedy heavy metal. The vocals have a more catchy quality this time and with the inclusion of some nice harmonic lead guitar work, the overall arrangement is both interesting and exciting as well. Some Sonata Arctica influences creep into the mix with the track Harlequin especially with the more heavy emphasis on the keyboards. With lots of tempo and rhythmic changes, this track shows a more progressive edged aspect of the band's sound. The progressive overtones continue with Hexxen, a track that opens with acoustic guitar passages before getting heavier again, with many tempo and riff changes along with some very speedy sections. The "gang" chorus style really suits this song and the shredding lead guitar work is some of the best to be found on this release.

For a seemingly very young band, you can't deny the enthusiasm and love for the music that Hexxen has. Their songs are very ambitious (a little too much so in some aspects) and could use a little more structure and coherency, as they tend to bombard the listener with a wild, chaotic and somewhat unstructured sound. The instrumental bridges and riff breaks are very solid but they need to work on tightening up the arrangements and execution of their material. Vocalist Jacob Holmstrom does an adequate job but quite frankly, he is a weak spot for the band. The band does have a keyboard player (Andreas Holmberg) but his sound, especially with the organ and piano, doesn't fit their sound - it's too "clean" to fit the gritty heavy metal sound of Hexxen. More atmospheric synthesizer work may be a better way to go. I know that these guys are huge Savatage fans and Jon Oliva's piano works wonders for that band's sound but it's a very tough thing to get to work properly within the context of a heavy metal band like Hexxen. The lead guitar work shows promise and a couple of tracks feature some very good solos. Full marks for this band's ambition and love for the classic metal sound but more attention to song arrangements and a better vocal performance are absolute necessities for the future. I have a feeling that this material would come off much better in a live situation but if you're ever going to secure a label deal, then it has to come across much better on the studio recordings than it has here.

Check out the band's MySpace page here

Killing Songs :
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