Hekz is no stranger to Background Magazine. The reviews of their first two albums, Tabula Rasa (2012) and Caerus (2014) can be read here (see review). Colleague Strik judged them with respectively 3 and 4 stars. He indicated that Hekz is in the musical line of the following bands: Rush, Dream Theater, Queensryche, Psychotic Waltz, Iron Maiden, The Cult, Threshold, Haken, Riverside and Deep Purple. I had to swallow when I read that. Does this band have something special in itself? That is the question.
The first spins of the album I had to get used to the singer, Matt Young. He has many styles of singing, from very low to very high and everything in between. If you give yourself the time to get used to his voice, in the end it has something addictive and he can be added to the better vocalists of progressive rock nowadays.
As mentioned before by colleague Strik about all the diverse musical comparisons, I can only admit that he is totally right about that. This band plays in so many styles that it takes a while to let it come to mind and that makes it a really good album. Opener Quetzlcoatl has that much variation, from details to heavy outings, beautiful solos, duo solos and progmetal in Dream Theater style. Well, if we just started this way, what else has this album to offer you? For Our Lives is an ode to the old school metal with a modern twist, The Light Fantastic has an 007 intro. There is space for all instruments including beautiful solos on keys and guitar. To The Lions is a real rock song with a lovely drum intro of drum beast Kirk Brandham and another main role for the guitar players Al Beverige and Tom Smith. Ultimatum has blissfully recurring themes that are so characteristic of progressive rock. Line In The Sand is the second longest song in which there is a lot of threat and build-up. In this song you will hear a truly terrific keyboard solo of keyboard wizard James Messenger supported by a great rhythm section. For me this song is one of the highlights. The Devil's Coin is the longest track. Terms such as orchestral, nice transitions, top notch rhythm section, adventure, a song with balls, variety, threatening, a real headphones-song, technical, long instrumental passages and recurring themes comes to mind. I make myself clear: The Devil's Coin is the true highlight of the album. It is worth buying the album for this epos only. The beautiful semi ballad Victorious may close the album. The main role in this one is for singer Matt who delivers a beautiful performance.
If I do compare this album with the previous one I can say that the songs have become more mature and the guys have grown up. Hekz is ready to conquer the world. Is the world ready for Hekz? This album is food for the yearlists!
****+ Michel Stolk (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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