Damn near every new thrash band out these days is accused of being unoriginal or generic, but HeXeN has always been one of the more peculiar acts around with their melodic thrash. Their debut record "State of Insurgency" is easily one of my favorites of the whole NWOTM, and it still gets a few plays a year, so needless to say this has been one of the more anticipated albums for myself. And to be honest, I was a little disappointed. Not that "Being and Nothingness" is a bad record, because it isn't, it just wasn't as good as its predecessor. I had the looming fear that the band might take a much more progressive route to this album and ditch a lot of the thrashing energy that they had before and I was right to an extent.
The music here is pretty much what happens when a bunch of guys who were classically trained in their instruments decide to play one of the most immature and nontechnical subgenres of metal. Legends of the genre in Slayer, Kreator, Sodom, Morbid Saint and the like didn't become the icons that they are because they were technically proficient, but because they knew how to harness an insane amount of energy and catchiness in their music, which is something that HeXeN managed to accomplish on their debut while also mixing in a fair amount of melody and technical proficiency, but a lot of that energy is gone here and replaced with arpeggios and odd structures. "Defcon Rising" is one of the few tracks that features boring riffage and some decent melodies, but then it randomly goes into an acoustic section and other weird riffs that just seem to be there because the guitarists know how to play complex music.
Once again, I must reiterate that I'm not bashing the band or the music, but it seems like their was more focus on the "look at me, I know how to play my instrument really well," rather than writing catchy songs. "Grave New World" and "Indefinite Archetype" are a couple of the tracks that are reminiscent of the early days of the band as they find the right balance of melody, progressiveness, and thrashing goodness. I'm very happy that Andre didn't try and bring in any clean vocals, because that would've taken the proggy-ness of the music way too far, instead he opted to stick with his harsh vocals that are intelligible and suit the music well. The solos are top-notch as you would expect with the two incredibly talented axemen, and Carlos Cruz's drumming is spectacular. Every song on "Being and Nothingness" is passable, but they all could have been better, though this is coming from someone who disdains progressive music, so I'm sure there are fans out there who appreciate it more than I. Either way, this is still a solid record that most of HeXeN's fans will enjoy. On the much more positive side of things, this album definitely has a certain feeling to it that promises it could grow on me with a few more listens and hopefully I'll be enlightened and soon enough it'll be an album that I enjoy as much as the masterful "State of Insurgency."
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"Grave New World"
4.1/5 or 82%.