Hexer - Hexer
Gilead Media
6 songs (35:16)
Release year: 2013
Gilead Media
Reviewed by Charles
Here we have two three-track cassette releases from Philadelphia’s Hexer, thrown together into a 35 minute album. Playing thrash metal in this day and age runs the risk of being completely superfluous, but fortunately that fate is avoided here: introducing a heavy black metal influence is obviously not a new idea but the energy and expertise with which Hexer merge the two genres make this worth hearing.

The band makes a good first impression. I-I (like a lot of acts on the Gilead roster, this is band that doesn’t like to give stuff names) introduces itself with frostily mid-tempo black metal, but then a fast backbeat picks up and we are catapulted into a retro thrash riff- think Merciless Death, perhaps (or Dark Angel if you want a more classic reference). But what makes this interesting is, first and foremost, the sound of the band: the guitar tone is all fuzzed up and wizened, very much in the vein of raw second wave black metal (and occasionally could even pass for DSBM if it was strummed at 30bpm rather than 300). Added to that are the screeched, distorted vocals, of which the same remark could be made. The combination works really well, frequently managing to channel the energy of thrash but with a darkness and intensity that the latter cannot normally muster.

On the second ‘side’ of the LP- the second EP, in other words- the black metal influences become stronger. Indeed, of the three tracks two are over seven minutes, with slightly slower tempos and a more downbeat, meloblack atmosphere. The question is whether Hexer’s sound can do generate sufficient variety and dynamics to pull these longer efforts off. Certainly there are enough hair-raising accelerations to keep the energy up, and II-III in particular has more than enough good riffs in to carry the day. Probably the most striking moment of the second side is the scary Transylvanian Hunger zealotry of I-II, which takes Hexer a long way indeed from thrash- before the latter starts trying to muscle its way back in halfway through. This is a good band- will be interesting to see what they can come up with on a proper full-length.

Killing Songs :
Charles quoted 80 / 100
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