Hessian is a 4-piece group occult psychedelic heavy metal group from the United States. With a wicked album title like “Bachelor of Black Arts” and a cool old-school 80’s album cover, expectations should be pretty high immediately. Unfortunately, however, the band fails to live up to the awesome image they’ve conjured. While there is the occasional moment of interest, Hessian does too many things poorly on this album. The first issue is with the vocals. The band has two singers; one male and one female. Neither is particularly great, though Salli Wason is the superior of the two vocalists. Angus McFarland, the band’s other singer, actually does a lot more of the singing though. He tends to suffer from wailing syndrome, where he wanders for notes, paying little attention to what they should be (see the opening verse of “Eyebite”). In this respect, the band very much sounds like a retro 70’s rock band. A lot of the riffs reflect this too; the guitar tone is not particularly distorted and the riffs lack aggression. Sometimes the band breaks into a long-winded jam, letting the guitars fly free, but not in a way that is particularly appealing to those who prefer succinct songs.
“Bachelor of Black Arts” is certainly a competent release. There are far worse bands out there, and Hessian manages to play in time, in tune, and with some elements of songwriting. But the music just isn’t interesting. The mix isn’t particularly great; it seems like everybody is fighting for volume at the same time. There is a distinct lack of dynamics between the instruments, despite there being ample attention placed on musical dynamics in the song. For example, some songs include quiet, clean bits, while others move between louder more rocking moments and softer more chilled sections. The band is generally at their best when the guitar playing is the focus. The solos are relatively well composed, and they manage to enhance each song substantially. This is most noticeable on the last song, "Witch Road", where shredding takes over and brings the band to their greatest heights. There are several sections with harmonized guitars, though they end up sounding more like Thin Lizzy than Iron Maiden. This is much in line with the band’s sound as a whole. There might be a lot of metal elements on this album, but it feels much more like a rock and roll record. Ultimately, however, regardless of what style of music Hessian plays, it just doesn’t click with me. This will appeal to some people, but fans of more technically precise metal will not dig “Bachelor of Black Arts”.
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3.1/5 or 62%.
Written by Scott