Think of the most oppressive, putrid, and harrowing music you know. Now multiply the numerical representation of that oppressive and harrowing putridity by a thousand million. Your numerical representation is dwarfed by that of Hexis. In their world, Wormed sound like the Beach Boys, Ahab sound like wimpy clown fish, and Annal Nathrakh sound like a Tony Bennett tribute act. Eradicating this hyperbolic opening in favor of a more measured and rational approach, The Dane’s in Hexis play a blackened-hardcore that writhes and squirms with a depth of sound that consumes all; there is no room for subtle dynamics here. Tando Ashanti is their second full-length, following on from 2014’s similarly dense and unforgiving Abalam.

The hardcore elements of their sound are faint but the ethos – short and intense songs and somewhat simplistic though effective riff-patterns and song progressions – runs through the album like pure mustard gas. They share traits with fellow hardcore-influenced bands like Young and in the Way and Enabler, however Hexis possess a closer link to death-metal and sludge. The sonic-force of Wormed and the absolute filth of Indian are two stylistic influences that bludgeon their way through the dense sound that Hexis create on Tando Ashanti. Blackened elements arise through the wash of tremolo that occurs at incremental points through the album, alongside the searing harsh cries of vocalist Filip Andersen: a venomous force to behold throughout.

The three best tracks form a back-to-back-to-back trinity of brutality. Each – “Molestus,” “Ritualis,” and “Calimitas” – falls short of the three-minute mark, but they carry a heaviness that follows through the entire album. It’s the almost-industrial wash of pulsating noise supplied by the rhythm section that obfuscates these tracks, providing a claustrophobic background for the riffs, drums, and vocals to weave their heavy-handed magic. Verging on toneless, “Molestus,” like a rampaging tornado, grows in pace and intensity as the prominent drums increasingly quicken and the guitars grow hazier. “Ritualis” enters with a dirty swagger as the drums carry a more peculiar flavor. The pace slows, slightly, giving space for Filip Andersen to spew forth blackened cries of ‘I can feel your anxiety.’ Riff-wise “Calimitas” shares a lot in common with the sharp attack of Immolation, however Hexis intensify this ten-fold. Follow up track “Nocturnis” shifts the tempo into moodier territories but is similarly as effective. The drumming has a defter feel, the riffs bleed a subtler sense of anguish, and the song builds crushingly before fading out to desolate ambience.

Even when songs slow down the venom and unease remain. Following the mid-paced, blackened opening of “Ashanti” the song slows to a plod as the music begins to de-construct itself: vocals gurgle with an unpalatable looseness, the bass fades to a uniform blob, and guitar lines unravel, cranking and soaring out of key. This breakdown of melody and, to a certain extent music, re-appears throughout the album to profound effect. “Cordolium” follows a similar path; at the mid-way point silence smothers before an off-key clangor of background buzz and dissonant guitar licks reverberate with menace. “Resurrection,” very much reminiscent of the eerie “Finale” from the recent Dodecahedron, shuns guitars all together as cavernous feedback, slow drum beats, and spitting vocals form a demonic trinity.

My main issue is with the structuring of the album itself. As the album progresses Hexis begin to eschew the intensity of the first half in favor of slower interludes and riff-patterns that lack the force and hooks of the opening. Tando Ashanti would excel if it rip-roared through from start to finish at a break-neck speed with rarer use of slower moments. Although possessing traces of the atmospheric maelstrom of the opening track, the majority of eighth track “Cordolium” trudges along at a rather bland and uninspired pace. Sometimes a good pummeling is what we all need. A shorter and more intense record would, in my opinion, serve better. It is difficult to follow such an excellent opening. Despite the strength of “Resurrection,” “Septum” and “Presagium” – the two closing tracks – fail to add anything memorable or different enough to improve the album.

Tando Ashanti is a consistently bludgeoning album that’ll set the blood flowing, the hatred growing, and your love for heavy music glowing. This is a genuinely heavy record – supported by a solid production, particularly the drums – that manages to retain elements that are conventional and recognizable enough to head-bang to. Simultaneously, moments of disembodied creepiness stain the ether that floats through the album, providing a backdrop that’ll keep you awake at night.


Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Halo of Flies
Websites:  hexisband.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/Hexisband
Releases Worldwide: April 14th, 2017

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  • Sean Sky

    “Tando Ashanti is a consistently bludgeoning album that’ll set the blood flowing, the hatred growing, and your love for heavy music glowing.”

    There’s no earthly way of knowing
    Which direction we are going
    There’s no knowing where we’re rowing
    Or which way the river’s flowing
    Is it raining, is it snowing
    Is a hurricane a-blowing
    Not a speck of light is showing
    So the danger must be growing
    Are the fires of Hell a-glowing
    Is the grisly reaper mowing
    Yes, the danger must be growing
    For the rowers keep on rowing
    And they’re certainly not showing
    Any signs that they are slowing

  • manimal

    I’m gonna come to your house on the back of a horse with / a bunch of angry villagers carrying torches / most of whom inquire as to the whereabouts of the ROTM

    • I remember ROTM coming out quite precise at the fresh start of a new month once. It sendt shock waves through the metal community. Weak souls faded. Others shat themselves. It was horrible. Be glad it’s fashionably late.

      • Sean Sky

        March was such a ridiculously good month for releases… How are they even going to pick?

        • I’ll just throw in my guesstimate in the dark, “pools coupon”, or “play the unicorns” if you will:

          Slagmaur – Thill Smitts Terror
          Acrimonious – Eleven Dragons
          Wolfheart – Tyhjyy
          Engulfed – Engulfed in Obscurity

          Although, I wouldn’t be the least surprised if this turns out to be an utter misfire.

          • Name’s Dalton

            Engulfed!!!

          • Thatguy

            I’ll play this game. ‘Winter’ by Fen is March OTM, even if it isn’t.

          • Sean Sky

            I think you’re wrong on every pick. Not that those might not be good albums (tbh I’ve only heard the Slagmaur) I just think they’re not gonna be the picks.

            My personal bids:
            Replacire – Do Not Deviate
            Svart Crown – Abreaction
            Wormwood – Ghostlands: Wounds from a Bleeding Earth
            Fen – Winter
            Junius – Eternal Rituals for the Accretion of Light
            Persefone – Aathma

            What I think will make it:
            1476 – Our Season Draws Near
            Venenum – Trance of Death
            Lantern – II: Morphosis
            Replacire – Do Not Deviate
            Pallbearer – Heartless
            Dodecahedron – Kwintessens

            (Yeah, I made 6 picks for each. Fight me!)

            Also, Wolfheart came out in February.

          • Wolfheart was released the third of March according to the press release. Anyway. Forgot about Venenum as I only heard it recently. It kills! My list above is more like my personal faves anyway. And I’m sad to say I haven’t gotten around to Svart Crown, and I’m not done absorbing Lantern quite yet. With time only going in one direction, who knows what I’ll end up revisiting.

          • Sean Sky

            You’re right about Wolfheart, my bad. I was looking at the review date on AMG and not the release date. Svart Crown could very well make my end of year list. Lantern has only gotten better for me with every listen.

          • Sean Sky

            Granted, I did pick a lot of albums to possibly be featured but I did get all 3 on my lists =)

        • Drew Music

          The March ’17 ROTM is Kwintessens by Dodecahedron, even if it isn’t.

          • SlapDatAss

            Amen to that, good sir.

          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            I like your brash arrogance, even if it isn’t.

          • Drew Music

            Someone has to, even if they don’t.

          • Shit, I completely forgot about Dodecahedron. I spent a week sick last month and fell behind on some nifty shit. Got to catch up on that release.

          • Drew Music

            Hope you don’t have anything else to spin, then, that album is not to be taken lightly and will most likely not let you walk away after one sit-through.

    • BernBern17

      With the amount of new writers the AMG hierarchy has to spend a lot more time ignoring all of their opinions

  • Thatguy

    Excellent review, and I was already onto this excellent album.

  • Grum

    to go along with the relentless music, i reckon these guys also have the most relentless touring schedule in the world. they played 25 shows over a month in indonesia just recently (what western band has ever managed to do that before? unheard of!), and ravaged a small pub in my australian hometown some months ago with a blistering set before moving on to destroy other small pubs in unsuspecting places. apparently almost all the communication/show booking/organization is self-managed aswell?? their DIY ethos – kept up over more than 5 years now – is just astounding. really hope they get more recognition. i don’t normally post on reviews but it’s very cool to see them on amg :) kudos

  • lennymccall

    What’s that something something YAITW? On it!

  • You wot m8?

    This is one of those things I didn’t know was missing from my life until you reviewed it. Excellent.

  • GWW

    Really!~? Have you heard Altarage, Bestia Arcana, The Ominous Circle…

    • Akerblogger

      Indeed I have. Nihil was one of my favourite albums from last year – Spain has some excellently heavy bands. My lines about heaviness were tongue-in-cheek, a playful intro to grab attention.

    • AgonMcDuck

      Holy fuck, Bestia Arcana. Holokauston is sooooooo good. So glad someone here is mentioning them.

  • Kronos

    This sounds like Lowgazers-era Plebeian Grandstand. Needless to say, I’m loving it.