In a sea of digital promos, Hexx intrigued me right away. All I’d done is heard the band/album name and seen the cover. Sometimes that sells. Contrary to the phrase, sometimes you should judge a book by the cover.
Hexx began life ages ago. Late 1983 in the famous San Francisco Bay Area in fact. Notable as the birthplace of thrash bands Exodus and Testament and indeed many more. Focusing on power metal as their preferred genre, the debut album surfaced in 1984. That debut, No Escape, came courtesy of Shrapnel Records. Followed by two more, Under the Spell, and Quest for Sanity, that closed the first chapter of Hexx.
1991’s Morbid Reality opened a new chapter with its thrash/death metal sounds. Then Hexx fell silent, until 2013 that is. Founding members Dan Watson and Bill Peterson reformed with original No Escape vocalist Dennis Manzo, and new drummer Gary Gutfeld, to perform at the Keep It True Festival in Germany in 2014. The reformed Hexx recorded the Up From The Grave demo that is in the similar power metal style of their first two albums. Due to Bill Peterson‘s mounting health issues, he was replaced by bassist Mike Horn just prior to the band’s performance at the Keep It True Festival. Mike Horn remains as the band’s bass player to this day.
The 2017 Hexx, led by founding member and guitarist Dan Watson, features amazing new vocalist Eddy Vega and Bob Wright on the second guitar. The lineup is completed by Mike Horn (who joined Hexx in 2013) on bass guitar and John Shaffer (who played in Hexx between 1986 and 1995 and returned in 2014) on drums.
Hexx have returned to the musical landscape with Wrath of the Reaper. The release, served up via High Roller Records, is available now. For this new album, Hexx brought back their more power metal stylings.
“This record is mostly rooted in our old power metal style of our first two albums but there is a track on the album called “Exhumed For The Reaping” that has a lot of very fast riffs that almost sound like it could have been from our speed/thrash metal era. Eddy‘s vocals are very high and melodic, so it still sounds like very fast power metal and not like true thrash metal. We consciously tried to take what we thought were the best elements and style of our first two albums No Escape and Under the Spell and use that as the mainframe feel and vibe for this record. I think there are slight elements echoing back to Quest for Sanity as well in some songs. We think this new album is by far our best offering.” says founding member and guitarist Dan Watson.
WRATH OF THE REAPER
“Macabre Procession of Spectres” leads the rampaging charge. Marching style drumming provides the platform for the infectious riffs. This is a total thrash cut. Right out of the old school. Just the way thrash should be. Breakneck pace, returning periodically to that military-style marching beat. A fantastic opening window into Wrath of the Reaper.
On the second selection, “Screaming Sacrifice”, I hear a lot packed into this sophomore composition. Some thrash elements, heavy/speed metal elements, NWOBHM stylings, and power metal overtones. An epicness to it somehow. Vocalist Eddy Vega has a higher register. At first listen through poor headphones on the Toronto subway system, I couldn’t hear it properly. It almost sounded like gruff female fronted. That’s not a knock, don’t get me wrong!
From there the album surges on in this classic thrash style with a little power metal overtones for the duration of Wrath of the Reaper. With only one track, of the eleven including bonus, under four minutes, there’s lots to bang heads at. And I shall continue to do so…while also searching the back catalog. Not the death metal phase though, that’s not The Meister‘s bag. However, everything about Wrath of the Reaper is!