“Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia” is an actual word. It refers to fear of the number 666 (just as the slightly better known triskaidekaphobia refers to fear of the number 13). We’re not sure that anyone is actually afflicted with that fear as a clinically recognized phobia, but we have many examples of fearful superstitious avoidance of the number.
For example, did you know that there used to be a U.S. Highway 666, so named because it was was the sixth branch off U.S. Highway 66? Did you know that in 1986 researchers found that 23% of all crashes involving injury that occurred in the Shiprock District of New Mexico occurred on a 0.9-mile stretch of Highway 666, and that it eventually became known (of course) as the Devil’s Highway? Perhaps needless to say, the government did away with that name in 2003; it’s now the much duller U.S. 491.
Hexakosioihexekontahexaphilia, on the other hand, isn’t a word we’ve been able to find in our googling — other than as the name of a new solo metal project out of the Netherlands. But it’s about damned time someone coined that word, which must mean “fondness of the number 666”. Even if it would take a lot of practice to be able to enunciate it correctly (and we’ll be doing a lot of copy/pasting today), we should hail the conception because it represents basically all of metaldom.
But we’re here to hail the name for another reason, because the debut demo of Hexakosioihexekontahexaphilia that we’re about to premiere is dazzling. Its name is Demo DCLXVI. Can you guess which Arabic numeral is represented by that Roman numeral?
It’s not a shock that these two songs are so good, because Hexakosioihexekontahexaphilia is the solo effort of Tiúval, whose past work has included participation in such bands as Israthoum, Half Visible Presence, Merihem, and Blutvial. But the demo is so idiosyncratic that it still manages to be a very big and very welcome surprise.
The first of the songs, “The Burning of a Temple“, is packed with twists and turns. Grandiose and feverishly effervescent at first, it’s augmented by frantically darting and whirling guitars, booming chords and drums, and near-reverent singing. But the drums tumble and skip, the music comes in dense, menacing waves, and the voice ignites in lunatic howls and screams.
Roiling guitar maelstroms ensue, along with wordless wails, pulse-punching back-beats, throat-ruining shrieks, and rumbling drum thunder. It might make you think of the devil spawn of brazen black metal and post-punk, with strands of Krautrock and other musical DNA in the mix as well (at least as we hear it).
But oh, there’s more! The song eventually drifts away into dreamland, as seductive guitar notes slowly reverberate over misty synths. It’s a sublime and unexpected finale, with a kind of Old West, high-desert feel.
The second song, “Always One Step Too Far“, is a helluva trip too. It combines a big groove (like a lurching bounce) with another tag-team of wailing, psychedelic vocals, banshee screams, and gargoyle snarls. The music seems to sway, until it convulses and becomes much more diabolical, thanks to manic drum-bursts, boisterous bass-work, and writhing riffs.
The song also becomes even more trippy and spooky as it slows to a stomp, and also more unhinged as the guitars burn in a shrill, blistering fire.
Well, once again the track is a genre-mash-up, combining strands of music from at least three or four different decades going back to the ’60s, and it’s a ton of devilish fun to hear. Fondness for 666 indeed.
Hexakosioihexekontahexaphilia‘s debut demo will be released in a limited edition of cassette tapes by Caligari Records on May 4th. May there be more of this music to come. And may the Fourth be with you.