Those who live during anxious times like the ones we live in now, where every day seems to flirt with global devastation, may find themselves at a crossroads between different approaches to art. Some may cling to escapism to find ideal realms away from their own or to discover some answers within their allegories. Others may boldly stare into cold truth, in spite of how difficult that might be, and scream into the darkness. Others still may find themselves torn between these two extremes and, wanting a fantasy that safely emulates the evil found in the real world, ask like that little girl in the taco commercials: porque no los dos?
Hexer gives listeners both. The blackened doom quartet dropped their debut full length album Cosmic Doom Ritual a few weeks ago on Vendetta Records. The album, overshadowed by other huge releases this month, has not received much press so it may have missed many metal fans. Regardless of its popularity, this album packs a serious and slow punch.
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The first track opens up in an appropriately ritualistic fashion with drone bass and various pizzicato strings. The bass starts walking around as more layers of guitars are added and something vaguely vocal sounds. Then, the pits of hell open up as a full wall of multilayered vocals and buzzy, downtuned guitars. After a short glance into the void, the song relaxes into an acoustic, psychedelic interlude which leads into a much more melodic, major section. Hexer gives plenty of variety like this throughout the album that give the big moments more depth and meaning. The last section of the album finishes things with a blastbeat-laden scream fest with plenty of reverb and layered instruments. Each track fulfills the first’s promise of a nice, slow burn with plenty of build and atmosphere. They really stick to the idea of each song being a “ritual” with bits of odd instrumentation and a sacred intensity that lends itself well to the blackened influences.
Cosmic Doom Ritual is the perfect intersection of Sleep and Deathspell Omega. While a fairly simple combination, the result is incredibly engaging and effective. It sounds like Galactus’ bad trip after reading Paradise Lost. Like good post-rock or drone music, each song builds without the listener even knowing spare a few dramatically huge moments. By combining two sounds that are way overdone in metal right now, Hexer has efficiently made something new without even trying that hard. Take a look into their bleak fever dream. It’s out now on bandcamp and Vendetta records.