Copenhagen, Denmark’s Hexis are billed as a “blackened hardcore” band, but you won’t find any mosh moments or D-beat flurries amidst the unmerciful racket that is their first full-length, Abalam. Instead, hardcore exists solely in the belligerent stance of their music — left dripping with spite as black-light grind skins all and sundry in the same way Anaal Nathrakh did when they first spat forth their malevolent bile.
Formed in 2010, and picked up by the Wisconsin-based label Halo of Flies for this release, Hexis’s harsh cacophony of chaos is knee-tremblingly in its effectiveness. The album cover’s religious iconography of a black figure (presumably a priest) gripping a crucifix, gives you an indication of where Hexis are coming from thematically. Additionally, Abalam takes its name from the hell-demon that possesses and defiles humans and leaves them with only one way to free themselves from its grip: death. It’s an apt title given that Hexis are equally capable of defilement — albeit the auditory kind. But, without a lyric sheet, you’d be hard pressed to understand how poetic their hatred gets, as the crude shrieking vocals are concealed beneath sharp shards of sheet-metal, with only the odd line — such as “The cycle never ends”, taken from “Sequax” — rising up from the misanthropic mire.
The majority of songs on Abalam are cut from the one cloth, sonically, and like the lyrics, they too can be quite indiscernible without an understanding of the sinister atmosphere cast by monochrome guitars that hiss like lo-fi static and drums that flit between blast patterns and half-time beats to induce disorientation, most exhausting their course in less than three minutes. Hexis work best when operating within the tight confines of song structures typically found in extreme genres like grindcore or power-violence, with atonal onslaughts like “Exanimis”, “Desolatum”, “Timor”, and “Exterminati” sounding like Ampere or Angel Hair scraping their way through Portal’s demented discography.
But when they stretch themselves past the three-minute mark, the results are mixed and they can, at times, sound quite one dimensional and out of their depth, as heard on “Neglexerunt” and “Immolabant”. Saying that, “Immolabant” does introduce some quasi death-grooves as a means of variation, and looking past the squalling hail of feedback and bad intentions of the eight minute-plus “Inferis”, there is deep emotion unscathed in the slower sections — particularly the depressive bass notes that appear near the album’s end — which suggests that Hexis may move into a doomier abyss, a la Indian and AMENRA, in the future.
Many bands try to set a crippling scene with their music, and fail, so there is a lot to be said for a relatively new band who can conjure hellish misery. And while the 13 songs that comprise Abalam tend to sound like variations on the same nihilistic theme, Hexis’s raw-as-fuck flashes of grinding black metal are worthy of rivaling the Knelt Rotes and the Dragged Into Sunlights of this sinful world.