Even on my crappy iPod ear buds I can hear the coolest mixing effect on Hexen‘s “Being and Nothingness.” Mad props to Rich Bruce who recorded, mixed, and mastered Being and Nothingness. Hexen created not just a metal album, but a stunning classical opus Wagnerian in-depth and emotion, Paganini in deftness and speed.
Take the opening track ‘Macrocosm.’ The interplay between the right and left channels bombard the senses with a cornucopia of instruments with a spell binding effect. The pace is not let up with the entrance of ‘Grave New World.’ It’s lightning fast yet insanely tight. This isn’t your normal stock speed thrash metal. the composition is complex, the guitars furious. The abrupt change in time signatures keep you on your toes. Ronny Dorian and Tak Arayan on guitars, Andre Hartoonian on bass and Giovanni Layola on drums have sniper like precision in their playing. By 3:49 I’ve got the most goofy grin on my face. These guys are just mad! The words “holy” and “fuck” come to mind and there are still seven songs left to listen to.
‘Defcon Rising’ has a more traditional twin guitar attack and is more “metal” like in composition. It doth indeed have a more straightforward heavy metal sound with a groovy slow passage at 3:53, a break that is lyrical but just as heavy as the rest of the song. Spot on guitar work and lovingly crafted guitar harmonies at 4:45 are another highlight of ‘Defcon Rising’. Tak and Ronny are like yin and yang, each balancing each other perfectly.
‘Private Hell‘ is just wicked fast. The drumming is gobsmacking. It’s juxtaposed by “longer” more sustained chords and notes by the guitars in some places. It’s an interesting interplay of short and long where the drums are part of the melody. The amount of control Giovanni, Tak, and Ronny exhibit is nothing short of amazing. If your thing is in your face drumming, killer guitars, bitchin’ guitar solos, spit fire machine gun drumming and guitars, oh and more guitar shredding than you will absofuckinglutely love this album. Oh, by the way, the guitar playing and drumming kick ass.
‘Walk as Many, Stand as One’ is a traditional thrash anthem a la Overkill, Bonded By Blood, Exodus, Testament, etc. I guess it’s a California thing. If this song is in their live set it will bring the house down. Would it surprise you to learn that there is some pretty decent guitar work in the solos by Tak and Ronny? ‘Stream of Unconsciousness‘ alternates between circle pit intensity and controlled caged up rage. The composition is multi-layered with many shifting tempos. It’s the Tannhauser method, condensed into four minutes forty-six seconds. Once again Tak and Ronny provide multiple guitar induced orgasms.
‘Indefinite Archetype‘ is reminiscent of Testament and Slayer. It’s very heavy and very technical. The tone of the song is a pleasure to listen to . Kicking it up a cerebral notch is ‘The Nescient,’ which means the absence of knowledge or awareness. It’s the third person plural future active indicative of nescio and the present participle of nescire. See, I can talk about a Hexen song and not mention how gobsmacking the guitars and drumming are.
Much too soon the “Being and Nothingness” comes to a close with a most ambitious track. Hexen presents a 14:43 opus entitled ‘Nocturne.’ Andre Hartoonian, Giovanni Layola, Ronny Dorian, and Tak Arayan prove they are world-class musicians. Not many “metal” bands can pull off such a feat and do it well. “Being and Nothingness” is definitely a contender for Top 5 Albums on 2012.