After three demos and a self-released album, this L.A.-based thrash metal force were signed by Old School Metal Records who finally unveil their official debut. Hexen doesn't merely rely on the cloning of old thrash metal classics, but they take in a variety of influences to keep their sound fresh and relatively unique. Features cover art by the great Ed Repka!
What s the common factor in these releases : Scream Blood Gore of Death, Think This of Toxik, Hangar 18 of Megadeth, Game Over from Nuclear Assault and the logo of Dark Angel ? Well, the artist that created the front cover art of all these, and many more, releases is Edward J. Repka. He s best know for producing album covers of metal bands as well as shirt design. Repkla also worked on the design of models for the Hellraiser movies, and currently, he works for the National Entertainment Collectibles Association as their lead painter and head of art direction. The L.A. based thrash metal force HeXeN decided to team up with Repka, to develop the front cover artwork of their first official release State Of Insurgency . Referring to the name of the album, you get a pretty cool visual approach, that exemplify the creepy feeling when a bus is being blown up while another terrorist is ready to activate his bomb belt. It s, despite this topical subject, a very nice cover that fits perfect to the music of HeXeN. After three demos and a self released album, the band got signed to Old School Metal Records who finally unveil their official debut. The band fuses the elements of melody, heaviness, speed and technicality within the lair of thrash metal. Started out in 2003, and persevering through line up changes, the band recruited better and better musicians along the way. The next step to fame is now being set, as they signed with Old School Metal Records, and a first album is ready to conquer the world. Andre Hartoonian is the bass player and vocalist of the band, and his voice and vocal chords recall to the mighty eighties! His typical intonation and melody lines have the power and urge to bang you head while the musical roller coaster is accelerating at high speed! HeXeN incorporates all the best aspects of the art to form original music of a new and refined sound, which is essential to their brand of metal. They retain the hardcore spirit of thrash s originally loud, rebellious and chaotic premise. Prepare for Insurrection is the message that is spread, and not one word is exaggerated. State Of Insurgency opens with the track Blast Radius including the sound of a bus that is being bombed away, and when the first guitar riff of James Lopez and Ronny Dorian raid, you will agree that this will be a trip of one hour that will give full audio pleasure. All musicians are well matched and Carlos Cruz is able to give all songs the necessary punch and drive with his drum kit. While the great guitar solos of the first track lingers on, the second song opens at full speed. Gas Chamber opens with a great riff at full speed, and this is really my cup of tea! Nuclear Assault is really nearby, and that might be considered as a compliment! HeXeN is showing their talent in well dosed songs, just straight into your face, and without overdoing something. This is pure pleasure and although the musical direction is thrash metal anno 2008, the band is able to give enough diversity and variation in the songs. Some songs open really modest ( Chaos Aggressor , Desolate Horizons ), others are blowing you away ( Bedlam Walls , State Of Insurgency ), but one thing is for sure, every track has it s own quality and characteristic. One thing is for sure: HeXeN will put their name on the metal map of L.A. and far beyond. Distribution of the album will contain countries like Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, Holland, Finland, USA, Canada and Japan and that s good news for the numerous metal heads all over. Go and get your copy of State Of Insurgency , because this is one of the highlights in thrash metal so far this year ! Everything is said and done, I m gonna spoil myself with another round of HeXeN! My rating: 96/100 --Patrick de Sloover on behalf of Metal To Infinity