Thrashing band Hexen was formed in the streets of Los Angeles in 2003 and soon began hitting the local circuit with shows and demos. The band’s first demo was 2004’s Blast Radius (five songs) followed by 2005’s Heal A Million...Kill A Million (eight songs). Another independent release or two followed in 2007. Drummer Greg was replaced by Cruz of In Misery.
The band’s debut was issued in August of 2008 through OSM (Old School Metal) Records of California with which the band had signed for two albums. By now only singer and bassist Hartoonian was left from the group’s original line-up. The album sported artwork by Ed Repka who had worked with the likes of Megadeth and Death before. The group was publicized by Marco Barbieri (former manager of Epidemic and others) of Salem Rose Music.
After a period of silence, Los Angeles thrashers Hexen completed work on its album, Being And Nothingness, due in the summer of 2012 through Pulverised Records. Cruz and Lopez had left by this time.
HEXEN - STATE OF INSURGENCY - OSM
Hexen, from Los Angeles, is one of the new breed of (true) thrash metal bands to emerge in recent years to reclaim the coarse aggression and action-packed excitement for the maligned genre that in recent years has suffered through misrepresentation, fakery and fabrication to become a mere shadow of its former '80s glory. Bands like Fueled By Fire have made it their mission to rescue the genre that Overkill, Kreator and Exodus built from the clutches of impostors like Atreyu and Killswitch Engage who get mislabelled by the goddamn industry in order to push 'units.'
Hexen is the 'FUCK YOU' that the world needed. The band has an unabashedly metal logo, has its cover artwork illustrated by Ed Repka (Municipal Waste, Massacre, Megadeth and many more) and, most importantly, thrashes like its 1987. All scream 'hallelujah' now or suffer the strike of the beast. The band’s thematic approach is no different than its forefather as well. Witness song titles like Blast Radius, Gas Chamber, Knee Deep In Dead or Chaos Aggressor. It has been some time since a heavy song about nuclear fallout reached this desk. Why, is the world done away with atom bombs?
Now, lest anyone is allowing words like 'parody' or 'knock-off' creep into his thinking let it be known that Hexen merely draws inspiration and stays true. The band does not mock or clone. Thrash metal parody has better proponents these days in bands like Death Angel whose melo-thrash-lite is a boring joke only its label fathoms or the aforementioned fake teenage concoctions that anyone over the age of, say, seventeen can see right through.
We will get to the record labels in a moment, but what about Hexen’s music? It is thrash metal cloud nine with a good touch of US metal to boot. The band’s heavy pounding is mixed with accomplished musicianship and proficiency to deliver this impressive detonation. Andre Hartoonian is the near-perfect singer with his Paul Baloff-meets-Tom Araya voice. A few high screams would not have gone amiss however. The album kicks off with a 'blast,' while Past Life reminisces to the glory days of Megadeth. Desolate Horizons is an acoustic instrumental and a chance for the band to show off its musicianship before diving back into possibly the best song on offer, namely State Of Insurgency, which is happily the newest song on offer here. Imagine that, a band’s newest song is thus far its best. Four guys in Slayer or Megadeth would have sold their moms if they could say that! The title track is a mega-speedy explosion that shows off the band’s striking rhythm section. Carlos Cruz pummels the drums with precision, while Hartoonian shows off his bass chugging licks. Speed rules! All goes to show that this band rips, and does so in thrashing style. Just check out the guitar solos. Also noteworthy is a track called No More Color, which is the name of an old Coroner album, a band Hexen has covered before.
Hexen is publicized by former Century Media and Metal Blade GM Marco Barbieri. This man has been in the scene long enough to know what’s what and has actually managed real bands before. Having said that, during his tenure at these labels he was responsible for signing both good and shit bands. Perhaps, and quite possibly, it is the commercial imperative that drives people in such positions (see: 'units' above). If so, it is probably a vocational hazard that one becomes a living, walking case of a Stanford Prison Experiment specimen. How else, would one explain the puzzle of knowing real metal, then going out to sign Chicago’s Yakuza and then doing a full-circle and coming back to work with Hexen? Nevermind, one supposes, if Barbieri was not involved, this album would probably get as much exposure as freedom and liberty under the boot of US Armed Forces in some poor faraway country. Why would anyone sign to OSM Records? Let’s look it up under 'The spirit of self-sufficiency and underground insistence' in mamma.com. That has to be it. Otherwise, one might just as well cut out the middle-man and keep pushing its demos.
Bottom-line: Hexen needs to stick to its thrashing guns. People like Barbieri and OSM need to do more for more bands like this and come your seventeenth birthday you can safely chuck your Caliban and Trivium CDs for something like State Of Insurgency. - Ali “The Metallian”