By Matt Hinch
This fall Gilead Media released the eponymous debut LP from Hexer. Actually, each side consists of their previous two cassette releases, Cassette 1 and 2 respectively. With new art by vocalist Ansgar and a remaster by Adam Tucker at Signaturetone Recording, Hexer is one vicious slice of wax.
The most striking aspect of this mysterious trio are the razor-sharp guitars of lead guitarist Phlegeton (who also plays bass) and rhythm guitarist Lazarus (Mutilation Rites vocalist/guitarist George Paul if Metal Archives is to be believed) who also programmed all the drums. Incisive riffs and raw tone strip the skin layer by layer, cut by cut. Their blistering attack is both oppressive and soaring as the wounds open up and warm blood flows, releasing a surreal pleasure from unending pain.
As much as their searing black metal goes for the throat with grim intensity, shocking the listener with icy fingers, Hexer are not slaves to the style. Old school thrash rhythms and galloping cadences mesh with the necro-BM as well as some crusty punk influence. The result is both bleak and intoxicating. It gives the tracks a sort of looseness while still remaining determined and very in-your-face.
Ansgar’s vocals define anguish. Her demonic screams sound like the most vengeful Harpy imaginable suffering through heroin withdrawal. It’s really the only thing suitable for the caustic black metal that accompanies it. It’s also no surprise the drums are programmed. Not that they lack soul, but the precision is flawless. That’s needed as at times the whirlwind riffing threatens to tear the world apart and the steady thunder and crash of the percussion holds it all together. The bass mostly lurks in the shadows of the cavernous lo-fi production but when it chooses to take a path less traveled and rear its ugly head, it doesn’t go unnoticed.
Hexer is a grim, bleak and highly visceral experience. The no frills approach strips black metal to its base elements with repetitive and memorable riffs creating an atmosphere without resorting to theatrics. Those riffs tighten the chest with tendrils of malevolence and then drill themselves deep into the psyche, effecting a curse from within leading only to darkness.