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Hexen - "Being And Nothingness" (CD)

Hexen - "Being And Nothingness" CD cover image

"Being And Nothingness" track listing:

1. Macrocosm (2:33)
2. Grave New World (5:25)
3. Defcon Rising (6:51)
4. Private Hell (3:38)
5. Walk As Many, Stand As One (4:38)
6. Stream Of Unconsciousness (4:54)
7. Indefinite Archetype (6:23)
8. The Nescient (4:25)
9. Nocturne (14:44)

Reviewed by on May 25, 2012

"It’s a roaring spectacle of glossy solos and intricate songwriting that makes this sophomore effort one of the better thrash metal albums to come along this year."

Thrash metal group HeXen comes from the same stomping grounds as Warbringer and Bonded By Blood, though with a twist all their own. This comes from the use of progressive/classical accompaniment, which gives extra importance to what is largely standard-fare thrash. The band provided glimpses of this trait on “State Of Insurgency,” but leave any hesitations aside on “Being And Nothingness.” It’s a roaring spectacle of glossy solos and intricate songwriting that makes this sophomore effort one of the better thrash metal albums to come along this year.

Most of these songs don’t go for the obvious payoff. “Macrocosm” is an opening instrumental - nothing too unusual - and instead of just doing some lame soft-to-heavy build, they use piano and acoustics to give off a feel of a prelude to a gripping sonic journey. This combination returns on “Walk As Many, Stand As One,” an anthem that quickly rounds out to a stunning display of progressive resolve that finishes up in less than five minutes.

While HeXen has a deeper vision for their music, there is that small part of the band wanting to tear up their surrounding. HeXen gives those wanting nothing more than head banging thrash their fill with “Private Hell” and “The Nescient.” Lacking much of the experimental qualities, the band gives a dominant performance on these two. The latter has a fantastic break midway through that enters into this galloping frenzy that’s like Iron Maiden on a sugar rush.

This is an album that prides itself on musical altitude. There aren’t mindless whammy-bar solos or non-descriptive bass work. It takes some talent to pull off the sweeps and harmonies guitarists Ronny Dorian and Artak Tavaratsyan play, and every instance of these doesn’t seem over-indulgent. They mix the technical prowess with an ear for melody, usually from the plentiful of acoustic breaks on tracks like “Defcon Rising” and “Indefinite Archetype.”

The band’s music doesn’t get much more technical or ambitious than closer “Nocturne.” Split into eight parts, this 15-minute tune is about as edgy as a thrash band in 2012 can get. An instrumental version of Frederic Chopin’s “Nocturne in F minor, Op. 55, No. 1” is just the beginning of the many surprises tucked inside. Piano/guitar harmonies, bass solos, lengthy clean passages, aggressive posturing; it’s all here, and avoids a feeling of forcefulness. Some may grumble about how indulgent a few sections get, but that’s just part of the action.

HeXen’s “Being And Nothingness” should find its way into the tiniest space one has in their schedule. It follows up on their first album by taking more chances and showing a fearless resolve to not be shooed in with the rest of the bunch. Dullness does not find “Being And Nothingness,” and for a song as massive as “Nocturne,” that is a brag-worthy accomplishment. With another stellar release in a row, HeXen could be prime for a media blitzkrieg that would rise them up the thrash metal ladder.

Highs: Thrash with excellent progressive/classical influences, guitar work never fails to impress, band takes a big chance with 15-minute closer "Nocturne"

Lows: A few indulgent moments on "Nocturne," a few more standard thrash tunes like "Private Hell."

Bottom line: An excellent follow-up to "State Of Insurgency" that has HeXen improving on almost every front.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)