Written by: Blackie Skulless
On Hallow’s Eve, the newly formed label Wise Blood Records, based out of Indianapolis, dropped one of the hottest albums in the occult rock circle. Vexing Hex summons phantoms from the rural graves of Illinois, and their first full-length record Haunt is as strong as it is captivating. Though the cover may lead you to expect something extreme, this is actually a full-plunge into the calmer world that bands like Ghost have been dishing out.
With that in mind, you can expect everything to be injected with spooky instrumentation and clear vocal articulation. The classic horror film auras surround the keyboard and electric organ passages, which are built around rather mean riffs. To top it off, your vocals get a layer of howls and moans to back up what already feels very concise, getting a bit operatic at times. What helps Vexing Hex’s approach stand out is the suspense factor that doesn’t lead into anything overly intense. Instead, drops of doom metal influence come in.
Mixing up said doomier crawls with accessible catchiness represents the two halves of Haunt. “Build Your Wall” could easily be a sharp radio tune, thanks to the hook-loaded chorus and the overall bounciness. “Planet Horror” is similar in retaining that pace but elaborating on the songwriting. To add another breath of fresh air, you get acoustic guitars to precede the stellar riffing in “Thy Will Be Done.”
On the other hand, this also consists of booming stompers that focus more on flow and feeling. “Revenant” has a slower gallop with chants to establish the mood following the “Hymn” intro, almost opening on an epic note. This strategy is extracted and injected into a story format in “Living Room,” and “Rise From The Grave” closes things on such an evil note. Lyrically and musically, it has the most sinister complexion, thanks to the erupting bass and drums shaking everything.
For an album that’s only really six songs plus an intro, this absolutely knocks it out of the park. Despite not being the heaviest album out there, it sure knows how to plant dark and devious feelings in what are ultimately garnished up heavy metal riffs. And considering how popular this style has become over the years, Vexing Hex really managed to make something original.
Vexing Hex - Haunt was re-released Oct. 20th, 2020 by Wise Blood Records
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!