Hexenbrett – Zweite Beschwörung: Ein Kind zu töten Review

I’m just gonna say it: what the actual hell is with that cover? It’s one thing to hit us up with a hefty dose of guts and gore, or some occult symbols and shenanigans, maybe some hooded spooks, landscapes, I dunno. But to take a claw hammer to a baby doll, whip out your phone camera, saturate the colors, slap a border on it, and call it kvlt is just plain weird. I get it fits the title (“Second Summoning: Killing a Child” in English), and of course you don’t want to show anything like that, but wow, that’s all you could come up with? So, already knocking my expectations down, does Hexenbrett offer something that lives up to its awkward artwork or does it excel so much that it scores well regardless?

Hexenbrett is a German black metal band and relatively new to the scene, having released their only release in an independent EP in 2018, Erste Beschwörung.1 These Germans offer a unique take on the blackened arts: while you can expect the usual shenanigans like tremolo, shrieks, and blastbeats, debut full-length Zweite Beschwörung: Ein Kind zu töten is a multilingual affair2 done through a stunningly clean production, punky attitude, and experimental rip-roarin’ heavy metal riffs and solos. The result, in spite of its frontloaded listen and jarring tone fluxes, is packed to the brim with potential.

While the black metal template is nothing groundbreaking, Hexenbrett’s heavy metal influences elevate the project’s debut from standard to fun. In a genre saturated with seriousness and kvlt attitude, it’s refreshing to see tracks like “Lass Schlafende Leichen Ruhen” and “Spalovač Mrtvol” cut loose with a fusion of tremolo, punky rhythms, and heavy metal shreds and solos. While each element individually may not stand out, the fusion is a hell of a good time, recalling the melodic nature of Dissection, the punky attitude of Raspberry Bulbs, the darker heavy metal tricks of Mercyful Fate, and the relatively clean production of Blaze of Perdition. Perhaps contrastingly, tracks like “La Tumba de Los Muertos Vivientes” and “The Spider Song” are solid exercises in dread, utilizing tricks like spiraling Portal-esque dissonance and epic folky Summoning atmospheres to amp up the sonic palette.

Zweite Beschwörung… is a tale of two halves. While its first four tracks are sturdy, what’s most damning is its jarring second act tonal fluxes. An April black metal release, Bâ’a’s Deus Qui Non Mentitur, had similar issues but its material in each song felt so solid that iffy transitions felt minor rather than derailing. Hexenbrett’s fusion of black and heavy metal, while extremely promising and exhilaratingly lighthearted in the first half, ultimately either feels forced or jarring in the second. Tracks like “Attraverso Sette Porte All’Inferno” and “Blutige Seide” are aural identity crises, trying too hard to make things fun and dark—an “everything and the kitchen sink” approach that feels just as obnoxious. Meanwhile, closing track “Les Requiem des Vampires,” an otherwise solid listen, slams its fun-loving attitude to a screeching halt in favor of abrupt menace. As such, while the frontloaded tracks choose a tone and stick to it, the others are doomed by their indecision. Furthermore, even solid first-half tracks are abrupt to one another, like the explosively fun “Spalovač Mrtvol” followed by the ominous slow burning “La Tumba de Los Muertos Vivientes.” Finally, the self-titled instrumental intro and interlude tracks feel unnecessary, just rambling exercises in ominous plucking that further emphasize the album’s frustrating tone issues.

Overall, contrary to Zweite Beschwörung’s godawful cover, Hexenbrett’s content is ominous and rip-roaring, albeit tragically doomed by tonal inconsistencies. Its style screams potential, fusing second-wave black metal with tasteful influences of heavy metal and punk, even if its thirty-eight minute execution is as put-together as its artwork. But hey, at least you can make out what it is, just like we can see how skilled these Germans are, simply needing to tighten up loose ends, decide on a tone, and establish solid transitions. Once the Hexenbrett baby doll assembles itself like the five pieces of Exodia the Forbidden One, watch out, cuz this blackened Chucky-themed nightmare will come lumbering into your neighborhood.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Dying Victims Productions
Website: hexenbrett.bandcamp.com
Releases Worldwide: May 22nd, 2020

Show 2 footnotes

  1. “First Summoning.”
  2. Songs are in German, Czech, Spanish, Italian, and English.
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