Hegemony – Enthroned by Persecution Review

Lately, I’ve had a nearly insatiable craving for blakkened death metal brutality.1 I love it when a release has riffs and songs I can hum after first listen, but I also love the bludgeoning barbarity of acts like Abominator and Archgoat, where discernible ideas are often sacrificed at the altar of extremity. Hells Headbangers2 tend to be one of the most reliable peddlers of this sort of stuff, and this once again holds true with Alabama’s Hegemony. Formed in 2015, this quartet’s sole prior release was a 2016 demo which drew them comparisons to fellow Southern U.S. war metal bands like Abysmal Lord and Caveman Cult. While I’m not sure there’s enough of these groups out there to truly call it a scene at this point, these American bands certainly have a punishing and violent style all their own, and this certainly holds true with Hegemony‘s Enthroned by Persecution debut.

For those looking for a blakkened death onslaught, look no further. Hegemony play this style in its most bludgeoning form, the type that sounds like turbocharged death metal played by a horde of anthropomorphic mastodon. In the vein of Heresiarch or Diocletian, the group deal in fast, punishing, and hefty riffs that sound like unsecured cannons rolling around the cargo hold of an 1800s warship. Beneath the salvo, the vocalist delivers monolithic subterranean roars occasionally layered with higher register screams for some added vitriol. As expected there are blast beats galore on Persecution, yet the drummer isn’t afraid to flex his chops as shown with the quick and ballistic fills on “Halter of Bloodlines.”

The thing that surprises me most about Persecution, however, is just how riffy it is. Whereas acts like the aforementioned Caveman Cult seem to be more about sheer noisy aggression,3 Hegemony almost sound like they started off as a death metal band before deciding to downtune their guitars and speed up their tempos. Opener “Exalted March to Decimation” is perhaps the best example, with the entire first half of its six-minute runtime serving as an instrumental buildup that takes listeners from slow and hefty chords to fast and tumbling riffs, even throwing a guitar solo on top of it all. Second-slotted “Rise in Turmoil” delivers the fast and brutish riffing right from the start, but it once again sets itself apart with a frantic little melodic piglet riff that carries its second half. Later, “Strength and Impurity” stands out by almost sounding like supercharged thrash metal, while closer “Ruination Sacrifice” ends things nicely with its wicked tremolo line and a final guitar lead.

All told, Persecution is capably performed blackened death metal that’s both pummeling and enjoyable. Yet at the same time, I have trouble feeling highly enthusiastic about it. The biggest issue for me is that, unlike other bands of this style, Hegemony just don’t feel particularly dangerous. Revenge have their militant nihilism and the inhuman drumming of James Read, Archgoat have their vehement Satanism and menacing rhythmic marches, and Caveman Cult have their noisy extremity and insane Neanderthal vocals. By comparison, Hegemony come across almost workmanlike, and while they’re certainly good at the work they do, I can’t help but hope that their identity becomes a little more compelling in the future. For starters, more moments like the aforementioned melodic riff of “Rise in Turmoil” could certainly help make the music a bit more interesting. Fortunately, the material sounds great, with a forceful production that delivers clear riffs and a booming low end without compressing things into a loud mess.

For those who are big war metal fans, Persecution is an easy recommendation and probably something you’ve already got in the queue. Yet even those who normally don’t partake in such extremity might enjoy just how riffy Hegemony‘s approach is. The group is clearly capable musically, and with a little more experience under their bullet belts, I can see them garnering quite a name for themselves in blackened death metal circles. For now, Enthroned by Persecution stands as a promising debut whose pummeling goodness has certainly earned it a spot in the infernal library of Z.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Hells Headbangers Records
Websites: hegemonicdeath.bandcamp.comfacebook.com/hegemonicdeath
Releases Worldwide: April 24th, 2020

Show 3 footnotes

  1. “Lately” apparently means since joining AMG and ascending to High Lörd of Göats, Wömit and Witches some years back. – Steel
  2. Along with Nuclear War Now!
  3. Not that there’s anything wrong with that!
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