Release DetailsLABEL Old School Metal Records
RELEASED ON 8/5/2008
State Of Insurgency
posted on 8/2008 By:
Given that the LA thrash scene is about as crowded right now as Disneyland on a summer afternoon, it is going to take a lot of effort on the part of any one band to command attention. I couldn't tell you how many young thrash bands I have seen live in various clubs here in the area in the past two years. Off the top of my head I can think of Warbringer, Bonded By Blood, Merciless Death and Exmortus, with tons more playing hours before the advertised bill. If I had ever seen the guys in Hexen, I think I would have remembered them because State of Insurgency, their first full-length with real distribution, is a proper kick-in-the-teeth.
While five out of the eight tracks that appear on the band's first release show up on State of Insurgency, there are 13 tracks total, making this a legitimate sophomore effort. Where Merciless Death revels more in speed metal, Hexen mixes the scene up a bit by embracing a slightly more melodic sound that adds to the diversity of the album. Of course, a full metal assault fills a certain void, but when you're in the mood for something more Ride the Lightning than Kill 'Em All you'll reach for State of Insurgency over the vast majority of releases this retro thrash scene has produced. And let's be honest here, very few if any of the new thrash bands are contributing anything we haven't heard before, so calling it retro is hardly inappropriate or offensive. Until one of these bands does for thrash what Atheist did for death metal, what Darkthrone did for black metal or even what Mastodon did for sludge metal, I'll continue to call it what it is.
The moment "Blast Radius" kicks off you'll know you're dealing with a different animal. There's a sense that Hexen has an agenda, and the commanding voice of vocalist/bassist Andre Hartoonian only makes it clearer. Addressing typical thrash fare like violence, war, destruction and politics, the band and the lyrical ground they tread is worn from the thousands of black boots that have been there before, but somehow it has been given more meaning through the clarity of Hartoonian's voice. The narrative nature of a song like "Gas Chamber" serves as a good example of the band's solid grip on writing. You'd think something as simple as writing a story that can be followed would be commonplace but it's not, and Hexen actually make me want to pay attention. I can't remember the last time I even mentioned lyrics in a review, which should say something about this release.
At almost an hour, State of Insurgency is a little long. I get that the band probably wanted to reintroduce the five tracks that were carried over from their debut but leaving those songs in the past would have cut just enough fat from this album to make it a perfect 30-40 minutes. That said, the good outweighs the mediocre, and songs like "Chaos Aggressor," the title track and the aforementioned "Gas Chamber" make this a must listen for thrash maniacs worldwide.
Register to post comments.