Seriously, what are they putting in the water in Wales? Häxan immediately made themselves known with their hard-charging rock, tinged with a punk sneer with the songs and skills to back it up. White Noise hasn’t been off regular rotation since it landed and within one listen, I just knew this was something special.
There’s a number of comparisons you can liken Häxan to, namely bands like Motörhead, AC/DC or a less punky iteration of The Wildhearts. Then there’s other acts like Girlschool or Joan Jett and the Blackhearts and then the more obvious pair: Tequila Mockingbyrd and Halestorm. In reality, there’s all of this combined to land at the obvious conclusion – Häxan are Häxan but if you like your straightforward hard rock, you’re going to have a great time with this album.
Quite possibly the definition of a power trio, this is a band who sweat and bleed rock and roll in equal measure. They’re a band who worship at the altar of the riff but there’s plenty of groove to back it up to give it this full, complete sound as they balance rawness with polish. Essentially, it’s the greatest trick in the arsenal of many a three-piece band – create a massive sound and then dumbfound the listener when you find out there’s only the three of them.
While they could most definitely never be labelled as pop, many of White Noise’s songs have that pop catchiness to them as jagged, crunching riffs play out. Indeed, it’s hard to pick out a stand-out track because each of them have their own identity and work well together to serve the album as a whole. They’ve each got their own gargantuan character but they all deviate off the path ever so slightly at different points – opener “Damned if You Do” has a funky alternative core to it, whereas “Grave Digger” has an early Black Sabbath evil tinge to it.
Meanwhile, “Killing Time” and “Crash and Burn” have the sultriness and punk attitude of early Halestorm, complete with Lzzy Hale-esque drawling vocals. Closer “Living Dead” is the most rambunctious of the bunch, full of bombast and heft unmatched by the other tracks which preceded it. Indeed, if ever there was a band who took the lesson on finishing an album strongly, it’s Häxan. “Louder Than Words” is big and brash with its gnarly opening riff before it descends into a more funky, swinging number and perhaps the most dance-y track. Whereas, “Crash and Burn” brings back the funky feel but in a more gritty tone backed to a chugging melody. In case you haven’t figured it out yet, Häxan aren’t the type of band who do ballads as you’ll not find a single track which deviates into that territory. But if they put their mind to it, with their pedigree, they’d do a damn good job of it.
Each song is meaty in length and with the exception of “Skeletons” which could be trimmed a bit at the end, nothing overstays its welcome. Everything sinks its teeth into you, refusing to let go and indeed, you don’t want it to. And that’s perhaps the only slight you can aim at the album – one song is just slightly too long. As the high-octane riffs drive the album throughout, married perfectly with neck-breaking drum work and thick basslines, it all works perfectly.
Häxan aren’t out to reinvent the wheel with White Noise. Instead, they’re here to show how great the existing one is when it’s done as expertly as they have. As they merge a number of classic and modern influences into their own mould, its modernity keeps it from turning into a cliché. If you love hard rock performed by three brilliant musicians who work together in perfect sync, then you’re about to hear one of the best albums of 2020. Now, when are we getting White Noise II?
White Noise is released on 24th July