Review from No Clean Singing

Posted by Hypnotic Dirge Records on Tuesday, May 7, 2024 Under: English
From: No Clean Singing
Published: April 21, 2024

Now we come to the full album I mentioned at the outset, from a band whose music was new to me. Hekseblad is a duo consisting of Bruxa, a vocalist and songwriter from Michigan who handles the lore and storytelling of the duo’s music (aWitch’s Amulet, Fanged Imp, Bruxa, Oaken Palace), and Frosk (Frog Mallet, Groaning Retch), a multi-instrumentalist and studio owner from Massachusetts who handled the instrumentation and produced the album.

Their new album, Kaer Morhen, was released by Hypnotic Dirge Records two days ago. I’ll share this preview from the Bandcamp page:

Drawing lyrical inspiration from the works of Andrezj Sapkowski‘s beloved Fantasy franchise “The Witcher” and musically recalling the days of true Black Metal glory (namely the likes of Emperor, Dissection, Gorgoroth and Obtained Enslavement), Hekseblad delivers a furious and magickal take on the sound of late 90’s Black Metal; balancing on the edge of melodic but malicious with their furious barrage of riffs and tying it together with flourishes of Symphonic sorcery conjuring a maelstrom of frozen ferocity.

You might have already guessed at those named influences from the cover art created by Aghy R Parakusuma, which vividly recalls the seminal works of Kristian Wåhlin (Necrolord). And certainly, the music does recall the glory days of those mentioned bands, but it’s far from a re-hash or a clone.

The songs are elaborate and very well-written, providing rapidly changing experiences of fire and ferocity, sinister sorcery and primal seduction, imperial grandeur and unchained barbarism, ruinous despair and fleeting glory — all of them laced with memorable melodies and head-moving grooves.

What we might think of as the brazen and jolting chords of “classic heavy metal” are just as big an influence in the riffing as the standard tropes of second-wave black metal, and sweeping keys (judiciously used) add to the music’s aura of diabolical magic and menace. As for the vocals, well they bring to mind some creature that’s a hybrid of lycanthropes and vampires, with all sanity lost in the breeding process.

There are also plenty of surprises in store (spoiler alert), including the actual stately waltz that comes to the fore before “A Grain of Truth (Nivellin’s Waltz)” comes to a close; the haunting harpsichord melody that opens “The White Flame“, which then carries the melody forward with blazing intensity; the dancing orchestration in “The Taste of Ash” (a thoroughly exhilarating song); the mournful, ringing notes and murmuring bass that usher us into the sorrowful interstitial instrumental “Ithlinne’s Prophecy“; and the acoustic-guitar strumming and mysteriously drifting flute that open the title song before it explodes. (And don’t worry, I haven’t given away every surprise).

I could go on (and on, and on), but suffice to say, this album is a huge and very welcome surprise, and one that will keep you perched on your toes from beginning to end.

In : English 

Released: April 19, 2024
Genre: Melodic Black Metal


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