Recently Swedish progressive symphonic metallers HEXED unveiled their keenly awaited sophomore album, Pagans Rising. It is a release inspired and embracing in theme the witch-hunting hysteria in the late 17th century within the band’s homeland, a record of drama and fascination which we can best describe as a glorious persecution of the senses and imagination
Formed in 2015 by vocalist Tina Gunnarsson and guitarist Stellan Gunnarsson with drummer Teddy Möller and bassist Daniel Håkansson quickly completing its line-up, HEXED soon found keen ears on notice through their first single, the 2016 released Dreams, with acclaim bearing attention quickly following within the year via the Exhaling Life EP, an encounter leading the band to a record deal with VICISOLUM PRODUCTIONS. Their debut album in 2018 truly brought eager plaudits, Netherworld a potent full introduction to the band’s creative tapestry of symphonic, dark and progressive metal. With drummer Patrick Wahlberg and guitarist David Nyman alongside Tina, Stellan and Daniel, HEXED with Pagans Rising have now placed previous releases and praise in the highly flavoursome appetiser category, the record a powder keg of power and an inferno of sonic and melodic prowess around truly striking vocals.
From its first breath, Pagans Rising had a firm grip on ears and attention, Tina’s mighty roar and the predacious breath of guitars immediately as imposing as they are magnetic as the album’s opening title track erupted. Relentless in its creative trespass and cyclonic thrust, the track surges with tempestuous energy and melodic scorching yet from its momentary calms to ravening uproars a virulence of contagion; a template for the album soon revelling in the open individuality of each track.
As her creative surroundings, Tina’s tones are a fluid mix of aggression and melodic beauty indeed embracing every breath between. It is craft and adventure more than echoed in sound and enterprise as relished by the following Resurrection and in turn Stigma Diaboli. The first lures with electronic suggestion before its winds wash across the senses bringing intrigue and dark intimation with them. Its fiery up rises are courted by Stellan’s throat roar incursions, another fertile fusion within the band’s music; that contrast in voice and menace as potent as the entangling webs of progressive and symphonic enterprise; dynamics and alignments even more irresistible within the second of the two. Instantly a siren call for the imagination, the song looms with drama and temptation, swiftly unveiling its genre varied landscape and theatre of enterprise which by the minute adventurously grew and aroused.
Through the likes of Repentance with its ferocious contemplation of sound and emotive intensity and the sonic conjuration of Incantation, the imagination was only drawn deeper into the release. The latter was under the skin in no time, its contagious summoning in voice and tempting inescapable as too the escalating lure of individual prowess within the band.
One majorly favourite moment was immediately followed by another in the shape of Prophecy, its climatic fusion of vocals and dilemma embraced in the mercurial but creatively ravenously body of the track. An epic and intimately ferocious alignment within the track and indeed every aspect of the album again is a set ingredient and as voracious within the just as outstanding Symphony of Tragedy, it’s calling another thickly compelling serenade of invention.
As mentioned, though united in HEXED invention and their certain breath of sound, each song offers its own character and presence of individuality, the seductive yet rapacious Blasphemy again epitomising the feat as too Dark Storm with its emotive and sonic tumult around the melodic eye of its tempest.
With Moorfield bringing things to an evocative, haunting and at times a glorious clamorous close, Pagans Rising cemented its stature as one of the year’s most impressive and aggressively enjoyable offerings, fair to say our ears and imagination firmly under its spell.
Pagans Rising is out now via ViciSolum Productions; available @ https://hexedmetal.bandcamp.com/album/pagans-rising
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Pete RingMaster 17/10/2022
Copyright RingMaster Review
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