HEXED – Pagans Rising

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Hexed were formed in 2015 by husband-and-wife duo Tina and Stellan Gunnarsson, and their debut album Netherworld, which I'm not familiar with, came out four years later. Overall, the reviews weren’t exactly overwhelming. This was reason enough not to dwell on it for long and to concentrate on the new album Pagans Rising, which is convincing in many ways.

The powerful opener Pagans Rising immediately underlines the strengths of the band. Tina Gunnarsson is an excellent singer, perfectly mastering both the rock and the melodic parts. Stellan concentrates on the guitar, but his occasional growls fit the band's sound perfectly. Hexed’s style may be located somewhere between symphonic metal and power metal, the keyboards do not play an insignificant role. This is not meant in a negative way, as despite some melodic elements, this album comes across powerful enough and sometimes even brutal, as you can hear on the singles Resurrection and Repentance. Hexed also have a progressive metal side as you can hear on the sophisticated arrangements. Further highlights are Prophecy and Symphony Of Tragedy, where the band offers music on the highest level. If you like the mixture of progressive, melodic, symphonic and power metal, you will get exactly what you are looking for. Towards the end of the album, the band unfortunately runs out of steam. Blasphemy, for example, seems a little uninspired and only the devil knows what moved the band to put this piece on an otherwise album worth listening to. Dark Storm is another track which is unable of setting any interesting accents. At least the last track Moorfield is an improvement again so that things don’t end on a sour aftertaste.

Despite some flaws, Pagans Rising is a good album for the aforementioned genres. Maybe not that big a sensation, but still much better than average. The combination of melodies and heaviness works out very well. If Hexed had shortened the album by about 10 minutes, I might have grumbled about the too short running time, but at least the eight tracks would have kicked ass uncompromisingly. The goal for the third album surely is to have a longer breath. Talent is clearly present, it just needs to be implemented more effectively.

10 songs

49:24 minutes

***** **

Genre: symphonic progressive metal

Label: Vicisolum

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