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Wrath Of The Reaper

High Roller (2017)
Rating: 7/10

It’s good to see Hexx back at it again with their fourth full-length record, Wrath Of The Reaper, thanks to the kind folks at Germany’s High Roller Records. For those not in the know, Hexx were part of that early, killer, San Francisco metal scene that gave rise to the likes of Death Angel, Exodus, Testament and a relocated band from Los Angeles you may have heard of named Metallica.

These were bands that left a great deal of blood, sweat and beers on every stage they played on. Only problem, was, the aforementioned bands found national success in one shape or another, while Hexx was more or less relegated to cult status.

In 1989 they released the great Quest For Sanity EP on Wild Rags Records, while Metallica toured behind …And Justice For All and Exodus hit the road with Anthrax and Helloween supporting Fabulous Disaster. Six years later, in 1995, the band split up. However, Hexx reunited in 2013 and 26 years later after their last full-length (1991’s Morbid Reality), they are back with Wrath Of the Reaper. The question is, does the band still have what it takes to melt faces? I’m pleased to say they do.

I’ve heard people describe Hexx’s sound on Wrath Of The Reaper as something of an ode to the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, but in my opinion I think the boys owe more to bands such as Metal Church than, say, Raven or Iron Maiden. If I had to describe the voice of new Hexx singer Eddy Vega, I’d have to say his style might be reminiscent of the late, great, David Wayne, but distinctly himself, in the end.

For the most part, the songs on Wrath Of The Reaper are straight up metal with elements of speed and thrash that serve the song as needed. Opening track ‘Macabre Procession Of Specters’ is a pretty good example of this.

What I really like about this record is that Hexx aren’t trying to fit into a specific metal category. The songs have a sound and vibe that feel organic and not forced. ‘Slave In Hell’, for example, does have a NWOBHM / power metal type feel, whereas ‘Voices’ is just a flat out headbanger that’s more along the lines of, say, early Metal Church or Heathen during their Victims Of Deception (1991) era.

All in all, though, the record itself is pretty cohesive and flows nice. The band sounds tight, Vega’s voice is razor sharp and best of all, the music doesn’t sound retro or outdated. What you hear on Wrath Of The Reaper sounds natural and relaxed, like a band that’s revitalized and ready to re-emerge and destroy the metal masses live. Hexx fit nicely next to Night Demon, Enforcer and Cauldron; three modern bands that owe quite a deal to the legacy that Hexx helped create.

If I do have one complaint with Hexx, it’s the time it’s taken the band to write, rehearse and put this record out. I’m hoping the metal community treats this band well and Hexx don’t wait several years to release a follow up. If you’re lucky enough to catch this band live, do it. They’re one of the founding fathers of modern speed and thrash, and Wrath Of The Reaper is a flat out, rocking piece of metal. Buy it for sure.

Theron Moore

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