Thursday, June 4, 2015

…thou shalt not suffer a witch to live: Hexenjäger - ‘Demo’

French four-piece Hexenjäger take a traditional, well-trodden approach to doom metal on their brilliantly recorded, glacially paced demo released earlier this year. Sluggish riffs, ominous low-end basslines, and unhurried and deliberate drumming is coupled with deep, resonant vocals. Pacing-wise Hexenjäger can be compared to UK doom masters The Wounded Kings, particularly to early albums such as ‘Embrace of the Narrow House’ and ‘The Shadow Over Atlantis,’ though Hexenjäger’s debut does not quite emanate the same sepulchral atmospherics.

Consisting of two tracks the demo opens with “Hexenjäger,” a twenty minute marathon of epic proportions. Those unable to handle waves of repetitious riffs and pummeling basslines may find the eponymous track tedious or wearisome, but true doom heads will find themselves comfortably immersed in the barrage of soothing, downtrodden reverberations. Despite the repetitive nature of the track Hexenjäger manage to keep things interesting, especially during the latter half of the tune with some excellently layered lead guitar providing both texture and ambience. The track’s denouement is punctuated by a rising tide of eerie noise that lends a Lovecraftian ambiance to the song’s final moments.

The ill-omened noise of “Hexenjäger” bleeds into and ultimately gives way to the closing track, “Murk.” Despite the slothful build-up, “Murk”—with its relative upbeat stoner groove—is an entirely different beast when compared to the demo opener. Of note is the drumming between the two tracks. “Hexenjäger” was defined by snail-paced, barbaric percussion whereas the drumming found on “Murk” is more explosive and characterized by a certain degree of swing. The rhythm section shines bright and the wah pedal leads kick this track up to the next level.

Despite only a two track demo, there is enough stylistic variation to whet one’s appetite for more of Hexenjäger’s take on traditional doom. The band’s demo is beautifully crafted, wholly realized, and perfectly recorded. Hexenjäger is a welcome addition to the growing pantheon of killer French doom acts such as Northwinds, Marble Chariot, Barabbas, and The Bottle Doom Lazy Band. Hexenjäger are starting off on a very high note and it will be interesting to see how they develop in the future. Definitely anticipating more…



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