Over the last 10 years I’ve used an alarm clark maybe a dozen times, tops, usually when I stupidly got wasted the night before and absolutely couldn’t risk oversleeping the next day. Usually I just rely on my restless mind to wake me: Before I go to sleep I tell myself when I need to wake up, and it happens, though usually even earlier than needed.
I do tend to get a little extra rest right up until my internal alarm goes off when I know I’ve finished the first NCS post the night before. Last night I hadn’t made much of a start on anything, and I wanted that extra sleep, so I wrote this instead of what I had been planning to do — and I did it as an experiment.
I normally wouldn’t dash off an album review as quickly as I have here, after only one listen to the album, but I did that. And I picked the album on a fairly random basis, knowing nothing about the band and having heard only a few songs over the weekend. However, the songs left me amazed, and I knew I would come back to this. So here we are — with what has turned out to be one of the biggest and best surprises of the year so far.
The album is Hexentrost and it’s the debut full-length by a band from Valdivia, Chile, named Degotten. Metal-Archives identifies a debut EP in 2014, a demo in 2015, and a single from this album last year as the band’s previous discography.
The music, in a nutshell, is an incredibly electrifying, head-battering, and gut-punching variety of black thrash and speed metal, mixed with pure, Grade-A, “classic” heavy metal.
The technical skill on display is out on the fringes where the demands of pure speed and dexterity would leave most musicians just giving up and sadly shaking their heads; these dudes live in the rocket zone quite comfortably. The soloing alone is enough to pop your eyeballs from their sockets and bounce them around the room like ping-pong balls. I strongly urge you to check out “Show No Remorse” if you do nothing else with this album, just to marvel at the soloing.
And if you like that experience, there’s lots more where that came from. The instrumental track “Fingerbreaker”, for example, is really just one long, fantastical solo that you have to hear to believe (backed by a damned good drum performance).
But there’s more than fireball explosiveness and jaw-dropping dexterity on display. The riffs, for example, are absurdly catchy, and the vocals are the kind of savage snarls and vitriolic rasps that are mean and blood-lusting enough to send wolf packs running in the opposite direction.
But wait, there’s still more than that. The songs aren’t just one thing. As much fun as it must be for Degotten to just blaze away like a napalm attack, they regularly switch things up. “Oath of War”, for example, is a goddamned Viking epic (or at least that’s how I think of it), a mainly mid-paced, gripping, dramatic musical saga crafted with heart-swelling yet grim melodies.
Even in the songs that are mainly blinding bursts of rampant speed, Degotten often ease back on the throttle (sometimes they also start slowly), creating a mythic atmosphere to accompany the pure exhilarating thrill of the chase, or changing the mood to something more somber, or simply putting on a lightshow of dual-guitar interplay. The dynamism of the song-writing is one more quality that keeps the album from ever becoming dull or predictable.
One more thing, which I alluded to earlier: The music also packs a very hard physical punch. It’s heavy as hell, as well as white hot, and the bombastic grooves are deep and powerful enough to crack skulls. The rhythm section turns out to be just as precise, just as inventive, and just as staggeringly acrobatic as the two guitarists.
Hexentrost really is an absolutely stunning album, a chain of jewels in which there is not one weak link. Help spread the word about this… I can’t imagine any true fan of heavy metal who won’t eat it up.
(Enormous thanks to Miloš for linking me to this album.)
Hexentrost is on Bandcamp:
Degotten on Facebook: