We start off with a 17 minute epic in the shape of “What Unknown Force”. A dark foreboding bass line takes us slowly in along with the drums before the guitar wails in like early slower doom-laden Black Sabbath before Tommy’s haunting vocals come in, the female side vocals add a real deep dark element to this track along with Tommy’s. A dark track with the subject fighting personal demons of death. The guitar plays with a full on dark purpose which fits the lyrics so well with the rhythm section keeping the darkness flowing; not a happy track by any means but one set to complement the lyrics in such a way to give the song such a powerful true depth of feeling that you are sucked into the story of this tortured soul. A truly outstanding and powerful start to the album with real thought-provoking lyrics and you realise at the end you were holding your breath.
We “Practice For The Apocalypse” next and a terrifying look at today’s society with the crunching guitar and pounding rhythms at fast pace as we hit the almost hip-hop section of words written almost on a daily basis during the current pandemic. You can feel every ounce as you listen to the track and read along with the lyrics – not an album for the faint-hearted with some of the most real life lyrics I have heard in many a year. A rollercoaster ride of a track with the singing and spoken work sections combined with the music making it almost the horror story of today’s society, the album is definitely in Edgar Allan Poe territory.
A purring cat takes us into “Entombed With My Pride By My Side” before some acoustic guitar takes us along into the vocals, a faster paced track with some interesting guitar, both electric and acoustic. Not so doom-laden as the previous tracks but with lines like “Humans are shit, boring as fuck”, it’s no less powerful. There is a touch of the flamenco guitar mid-way through and even with its stunning eloquence still manages to permeate a darkness due to the subject matter, there is a fierceness in so many ways with this album.
A touch of 70s prog intro leads us into “The Blind Man Shines Light On The Truth” with its marching hypnotic rhythm. The twin vocals are haunting in their melody along with the Emerson, Lake & Palmer style keyboards. Again, there is an intense depth with the lyrics with the music a dark partner to their meanings.
As we enter into “Escapism And Lethargy”, a fast paced intro gives way to the harsh spoken vocals, there is a flow in parts not unlike some early Siouxsie & The Banshees for me as we enter into lyrics aimed at today’s governments with lines like “If you liked Brexit, you’ll love Covid-19”. The mid-section is an intense thundering rhythm/guitar and keyboards before the growl-laden vocals take over, the guest vocals on all the tracks are inspired in their placement in the songs and add a true depth of feeling to the already laden tracks.
The staccato of the bass line leads us into “All of This Will Be Eaten by the Sun” as the vocals come in like a witch at full tilt ecstasy. The song appears to be Tommy letting us know how he got to this musical point in time with lines like “Psychosis and pandemic were the catalyst”. There is a ferocity in the rhythm running through this track which along with the lyrical content creates a stunning end to a dark story telling of today’s modern world.
This was a hard album to get through; the lyrical content could be or is a open book of the way society is turning now along with Tommy’s way of looking at the world through his complicated vision. The music is extreme in its change of pace as are the multi vocals at work on the various tracks, with Bryan Ramage again at the production helm. The album has that full-on sound I have come to expect from him.
There is a story linked all the way through these tracks and it has touched me on a level I have not had before from an album. Some will find it too dark, some will totally see what he means and others will hear what they want but there is no denying that this is one of the most amazing dark masterpieces I have ever listened to. I wonder if this could be the crescendo that he has been striving for over the past few albums, I don’t know but this is a modern piece of art in a world struggling to find anyone telling the truth. This is an album laden with riffs, haunting vocals and a splattering of flamenco guitar, for fans of Devin Townsend, Ihsahn, Wino, and Mike Patton.
Hexenzirkel is released on 25th June
Header image by Gary Cooper