Saturday, October 28, 2017

Hexx's undying loyalty to metal music

I’m not even going to attempt to tell you about the history of this American band from California. Every time I try to figure it out and I run against a bunch of holes in the story, so I’ll just leave it alone. The changes that have taken place over the decades is not easy to understand. Let’s just say that they have done a wide variety of styles in their history, including radical changes in sound that confused more than a few people, myself included. They released their early music in the middle of the 1980s and have continued with ups and downs, and whenever they came to a fork in the road, they took it. However, instead of talking about the past. Let’s talk about this brand new album of heavy metal in the traditional way. True metal, thrashy heavy metal, power metal or whatever you prefer to call it. Traditional heavy metal meets thrash metal, and that's the new Hexx album. Hear a new song at the first link below. --MMB
HEXX - "Wrath Of The Reaper"
Label: High Roller Records
Release date: 15. Sept. 2017
OFFICIAL: The infamous Bay Area has a long and extensive Metal history. Responsible for many of Metal's most trendsetting acts (just think of Exodus, Testament, Forbidden, Heathen or Blind Illusion) for over three decades now, the city by the bay has spawned some of the most innovative and exceptional talents there is. HEXX, one of the third-generation Power Metal bands emerging from San Franciso, were formed in late 1984. Their first album entitled »No Escape« was released only in the United States of America (by the legendary Shrapnel label) and began shaping a steadily growing fan base for the band. It was followed by »Under the Spell« and »Quest for Sanity« marking the end of HEXX Mark I.
At that time, internal changes were taking place within the ranks of HEXX that would alter their musical direction. On the strength of a new song called “Watery Graves“ (released as an EP on Wild Rags Records), HEXX signed to Century Media Records. The following album, 1991's »Morbid Reality«, marked HEXX's evolution from a more or less traditional Speed/Power Metal band to a brutal, technically-inclined Thrash/Death Metal outfit.
With the brand new record »Wrath Of The Reaper«, however, Hexx are returning to their traditional Power Metal roots. “Perhaps HEXX phase three is a good way to describe it,” says founding member and guitarist Dan Watson. “This new record is mostly rooted in our old Power Metal style of our first two albums but there is a track on the album called ‘Exhumed For The Reaping’ that has a lot of very fast riffs that almost sound like it could have been from our Speed/Thrash Metal era. Eddy’s vocals are very high and melodic, so it still sounds like very fast Power Metal and not like true Thrash Metal. We consciously tried to take what we thought were the best elements and style of our first two albums »No Escape« and »Under the Spell« and use that as the mainframe feel and vibe for this new record. I think there are slight elements echoing back to »Quest for Sanity« as well in some songs. We think this new album is by far our best offering.”
BIOGRAPHY: The San Francisco Bay Area based Power/Thrash Metal band HEXX was formed in 1983, and released its debut album, "No Escape", on Mike Varney's Shrapnel Records label in 1984. Since then the group has been through several lineup changes and musical style variations. The first lineup for the "No Escape" album was: Dennis Manzo (vocals), Dan Watson (guitars), Bill Peterson (bass) and Dave Schmidt (drums). The group’s second effort, "Under The Spell", was released in 1986 once again on the Shrapnel label, and with European distribution support from Roadrunner Records. For this album Dennis Manzo was replaced by Dan Bryant on vocals, and Clint Bower was added on rhythm guitar. The musical style for this album was still very much Power Metal, but with a hint of the Speed and Thrash influence that would define the band's subsequent musical style and direction.
By 1988 HEXX recorded the "Help Your Self" demo demonstrating a shift away from traditional Power Metal to the Speed/Thrash style that was taking over the Bay Area musical landscape at the time. Clint Bower took over on vocals, and Dave Schmidt was replaced by drummer John Shafer. England's Music For Nations label signed the band and released the "Quest For Sanity" EP in Europe. This album was released in the United States the following year by Wild Rags Records. In 1990 HEXX released a single on the Wild Rags label called "Watery Graves" which included two Speed/Thrash bonus track versions of "Under The Spell" and "Edge Of Death" from their 1986 "Under The Spell" album.
In 1992 HEXX signed with Century Media Records and released their most technical and speed driven album to date, "Morbid Reality". A year or so after this release the group disbanded and lay dormant until spring of 2013, when founding members Dan Watson and Bill Peterson reformed with original "No Escape" vocalist Dennis Manzo, and new drummer Gary Gutfeld, to perform at the Keep It True Festival in Germany in 2014. The reformed HEXX recorded the "Up From The Grave" demo that is in the similar Power Metal style of their first two albums. Due to Bill Peterson's mounting health issues he was replaced by bassist Mike Horn just prior to the bands performance at the Keep it True festival.Mike Horn remains as the bands bass player to this day.
After returning home from performing at the Keep It True Festival in Germany, history seemed to repeat itself, and Dennis Manzo was once again replaced by Dan Bryant on vocals, and Gary Gutfield was replaced by original member John Shafer on drums. This line up recorded two new songs, "Burn Or Boil" and "Swimming The Witch", and in July of 2015 performed at the Headbangers Open Air festival in Germany. A new deal was signed with Metal Blade Records to re-release both "Under The Spell" and "No Escape". "Quest For Sanity" and "Watery Graves" are being re-released on Vic Records, and "Morbid Reality" is being reissued by Dark Symphonies Records. Dan Bryant has recently been replaced by new vocalist Eddy Vega, and Bob Wright from BROCAS HELM has signed on to share guitar duties with Dan Watson.

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