March 30, 2018
User Review( votes)
Heavy Metal reaches an apex in form when the vocals can match the power and tonal thrust of the music; Progressive Metal hits its highest marks when the sound is wedded to interesting musical and lyrical ideas. Netherworld, the debut album from Sweden’s Hexed, succeeds remarkably well in both categories, especially from a four piece band whose membership don’t appear to have lists of previous credits—only drummer Teddy Möeller seems to have a journeyman musician’s resume. Whatever their former backgrounds, Hexed deliver a thrilling ten song set. Opener “Obedience” sets the tone with continually building rhythms and the multilayered vocals of Tina Gunnarsson. Her unaccompanied voice is powerful enough to bring down castle walls; when layered as it is on many of the songs (and nearly all of the choruses) one gets the sense she could take out whole city blocks with her range and strength. She can bring it down several notches as well, as she does on standout The Gathering-esque track “Lightyears”, where she follows a Tina-tsunami with a reflective vocal passage the segues into an equally reflective guitar solo. Axman Stellan Gunnarsson provides a rough guttural male counterpoint to Tina’s air-raid singing on much of Netherworld; his guitar work is sharp and interesting, moving fluidly from Progressive to near-Thrashy stylings. An already good album bolstered by a few standout guest appearances; Therion’s Thomas Vikström lends his pipes to “Exhaling Life” and Tad Morose’s Ronny Hemlin helps out on the pounding closer “Remake My Soul”, two jewels in an already sparkling crown.
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