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Hexen - "State Of Insurgency" (CD)

Hexen - "State Of Insurgency" CD cover image

"State Of Insurgency" track listing:

1. Blast Radius (4:08)
2. Gas Chamber (4:10)
3. Past Life (5:14)
4. Knee Deep in the Dead (4:01)
5. Chaos Aggressor (5:09)
6. Bedlam Walls (3:59)
7. The Serpent (3:19)
8. No More Color (3:33)
9. Mutiny and Betrayal (4:49)
10. Seditions In Peacetime (5:37)
11. Desolate Horizons (5:04)
12. State of Insurgency (5:05)
13. Outro (1:56)

Reviewed by on July 22, 2010

"Hexen is damn solid and has a great album so as to cement themselves in my mind as another forerunner retro thrash band to emerge in the last decade."

Old school single word name? Check. Album cover by metal-art legend Ed Repka? Check. Violence, society and nihilism? Check. It's time to thrash. "State Of Insurgency" is the debut album from Californian metallers Hexen and let me say it makes no mistakes about it's 80's tendencies.

If you're a retro-thrash band these days, you really have to pick your route to standing out. Some go for the "Pleasure To Kill" type extreme thrash and aim for absolute aggression (always a good thing). Others flop in between styles helplessly as a "one-of-the-big-four" clone and a
select few try something new altogether. Hexen has taken off from the last two groups, making a point to take the Megadeth styled thrash to a new melodic level. Not so far that I'd call it power thrash (as the thrash shout vocals dominate), but heading in that direction.

Ah yes those vocals - One of the best things about "State Of Insurgency" is that they're up front and clear in the mix. Giving the normal shout style, Hexen sticks to the tried and true methods because, well it works, damn it. This also helps highlight the band's lyrics, which are generally above par. And just to show the cover isn't just for show, they really do have a few songs themed about terrorism, but also run the gamut of intro and extrospective topics.

There's competent acoustic sections, but overall this is foot to the floor thrash in a classic 80's style. Every now and again the band will deviate into it's melodic ways with some bouncy Death-like riffs, but the killer thrash speed level comes back and dominates the album. Solos? Ball bustingly technical shred fests at hyper speed, no other way to put that. Production? Pretty much every second tier 80's thrash bands dream while they were creating demo sounding full lengths. Musicianship? There isn't even a need to touch on individuals members because they're all fantastically competent. In fact, there's not much to dislike on this album at all... but is there much to like?

The good points here are the riffs catchier than the average thrash band, in part due to the melody. On the other hand, if you're a thrash fan you've probably heard nearly every riff on "State of Insurgency" before. The band can never seem to take that extra step and bring something surprising to the table and corners are never turned. My point - is Hexen better than, or even stand out that much against Hyades, Rumpelstiltskin Grinder, Mutant, Gamma Bomb or any other decent retro thrash band? No, not really. But hell, those groups are all decent, and being able to write competent metal instead of poser garbage has got to give you a bonus point somewhere.

Hexen is damn solid and has a great album so as to cement themselves in my mind as another forerunner retro thrash band to emerge in the last decade. Make sure to put "State of Insurgency" on your list if you have the vaguest idea of what I'm on about.

Highs: Good songs on every level a thrash band needs to be have.

Lows: Unsuprisingly, they're an unsuprising retro thrash band.

Bottom line: All-around very tight retro thrash album. Hexen can definitely play with the big boys.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 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)