February 2021 Feature Release – The Pit Edition
So just like that we find that a new month is upon us which of course means that we’ll be nominating a brand new monthly feature release for each clan. This essentially means that we’re asking you to rate, review & discuss our chosen features for no other reason than because we enjoy the process & banter. We’re really looking forward to hearing your thoughts on our chosen releases so don’t be shy.
This month’s feature release for The Pit is last years highly regarded sophomore album from French thrash metallers Hexecutor entitled "Beyond Any Human Conception of Knowledge". I haven't encountered Hexecutor before but the early word on the street is that their 2016 debut album "Poison, Lust & Damnation" showed a lot of promise & this follow-up has been getting plenty of underground attention so I'm keen to see what it has to offer an old thrasher like me.
Hhhmmmm.... I tried hard to like this one. I really did. But unfortunately I just found it to be a bit too unpolished & unfocused for my liking. It's generally being labelled as thrash metal but thrash is really just one component with Hexecutor throwing the kitchen sink into this record as far as influences go. The basis of their sound sits somewhere between the Teutonic thrash metal of Destruction & Kreator & the German speed metal of early Helloween with flourishes of Iron Maiden's melodic heavy metal, the black metal of Absu, Bathory & Darkthrone & legitimate European power metal tossed in for good measure. I even hear a fair bit of Vektor at times although Hexecutor are nowhere near as ambitious. The vocal delivery sounds a lot like Kreator's Mille Petrozza & is likely the element that's most responsible for the consistent thrash tagging as there's probably more speed metal from a purely instrumental point of view. The production is definitely pretty thin & lacking which doesn't help but I simply couldn't get into the more speed/power metal sections much even though the thrashier moment are reasonably solid. I haven't picked a dud feature for a while but I can't say that I'll be coming back to "Beyond Any Human Conecption Of Knowledge..." any time soon.
Thrash metal with black metal tinges and a very progressive/technical approach to songwriting. Give these guys credit for at least breaking the mold and daring to create something that wasn't copied directly out of the 1980s Thrash Metal For Dummies book. However, my very short tolerance for technical thrash metal is tested on this album. The longer song structures do not coalesce very well and they simply feel like separate themes held together with duct tape. And that vocalist is just not my cup of tea. The shouts sound like whispers, which is quite a problem when thrash metal is supposed to invoke anger and aggression. I'd rather have them be in your face like Vektor or Revocation.
But at least it sounds nice. The mixing is fluent between the thrash and black metal tendencies and would absolutely work better if the compositions were not so slapdash. For such a new group, I would still recommend just for the exposure, and hopefully we can find groups that manage this sound better in the future, if not Hexecutor themselves.
Didn't enjoy this at all really. Felt very much like it was made on the fly with long instrumental passages just switching me off all too easily. I got no sense of what the band were driving at achieving as it all just felt excessive but never bloating even as the content wasn't ever really mind-boggling or all that delicious to warrant much in the way of conscious consumption.
I'm glad I spent a bit more time with this one, because even though I still don't think Hexecutor is a true sleeper hit, there's definitely some cool stuff in here. I was wanting to write it off after the first two listens since nothing really gripped me and I didn't quite get what it was trying to do, but after letting it settle for a few weeks I got a lot more out of it than I thought.
Hexecutor are really carving their own path in this record, with the jarring transitions between Thrash and more traditional Heavy Metal proving to be rather unique, at least to me. The vocals are always Thrash/Black Metal centric, leading to some...interesting portions where the Thrash riffs haven't kicked in yet. I found myself really enjoying the riffing and thrashy ideas on tracks like the opening "Buried Alive with her White Silk Dress" and the more Heavy/Speed metal oriented "Eternal Impenitence". It strikes such an interesting balance between two styles that both do and don't work together.
The record is still extremely clumsy though, with most of the transitions being almost nonexistent and thrown together with no effort. Beyond Any Human Conception of Knowledge feels like an album with a ton of concepts it wants to explore but has no real tact on how to display those concepts in a way that makes sense. I've found I love individual parts of this album, but the complaints of those above me still hold true with how thrown together it all feels. Part of me really enjoys unfocused albums just because you never quite know where the band is going to go next, but Hexecutor doesn't exactly blow my mind with how haphazard they are with riffs coming and going after the same old drum fill for 8 tracks straight.
Seems like I got more out of this than most, probably thanks to the non-thrash parts having some great riffs and moments, but I agree in that I'm not sure where all the hype for this one came from.