With all our love of the modern production studio and the wonders it can make with sound, sometimes you just need a bit of raw in your life. Stoner/sludge can be good for that, if the band has enough guts to really dig into the filth which makes the genres work well; the guitars need to skirt the edge of abrasiveness and dissonance while the bass should churn in the bottoms of the mix like so many piranha waiting for a bite. This is exactly what Hexuus is here to offer us, on both of the EPs they’ve released so far. The latest one, Avalon Dust, is a gritty, in your face exploration of sludge with just enough thrash cheek throw in, garnished by robust, hardcore-like vocals and a flair for the progressive.
It’s an effective little release, capitalizing on its short runtime by offering up plenty of aggression. The closing track, “Dead Horizon”, is a fine example of that; it opens up with a riff that wouldn’t be out of place in any thrash metal repertoire, garnering a “set-your-teeth-on-edge” feel for the verse. This feeling of abrasiveness is further amplified by the vitriolic vocals, filling in the blanks left by the guitars with even more aggression. Meanwhile, the drums and the bass play a more agile role, injecting some much needed variety into the track. They’re probably the most progressive elements, cutting and weaving their own intricate patterns while the more “prominent” elements (here in quotations because the bass is loud, as it should be) tow the straightforward and face-melting line.
By the time the quieter, more contemplative segments on “Dead Horizon” hit, alluring in their mystique, fueled by the bass/guitar unisons and the undeniable groove on the drum kit, you’re well set to see this track through, buoyed on the adrenaline of earlier ideas. The end result is a slab of molten rage tempered with a cool core, a short EP that’s filled with both high-octane action and deep running streams. It solidifies Hexuus as a band more people should pay attention; hopefully whatever they do next is just as good and garners them the place in the spotlight they deserve.