HEXORCIST – Evil Reaping Death (2021)REVIEW

Plagues believed to be ancestral wrath in physical manifestation, broken into pieces and distributed amongst the slime, necessitates ūm kispu for those who sit with us at all times and observe our follies. They must share in our feasts, breathe in the ambiance of our celebrations, and be conjured in memory via the passing of the arūtu towards the beyond. In times of famine and massive death we’ve still little excuse to stray from our duties in tribute to the dead, even when we are starving and collapsing like deeply speared lungs our most bestial, cacophonic music will sate past generations whom haunt us if we can manage resonance audible in death. Keen to the lineage of death-sating rituals of auld Floridian advent, their reverberations across western Europe, and the outliers within the great southern abyss whom uphold these bestial forms — Miami-based quartet Hexorcist incite a storm around their conjurer’s circle of fire in presentation of ‘Evil Reaping Death‘ a battery that celebrates tradition yet punishes they who would follow idols to ruin rather than defy them, siding with the true essence of the ancients for their own utterly blasphemic, bestial death-thrashing attack.

It is as if they’ve listened to Necrovore‘s ‘Divus De Mortuus’ and Incubus‘ ‘God Died on His Knees’ demo tapes to the point of rabid numbness and reconstructed their hate-filled, furious defiance in spirit by giving fresh skeleton and flesh to what was mere implication of the sensibilities of “next level” death metal beyond Morbid Angel in the late 80’s. Sure, Insanity ‘Death After Death’ predates some of this energy by years, and ‘Abominations of Desolation’ is yet the key artifact of development in between but as we consider the full berth of ‘Evil Reaping Death’ we must see the far-flung goal of logically extending these beginnings towards the harried daimonian work of Mortem circa ‘The Devil Speaks in Tongues’ before we dig too far into our obsession of advent. The volcanic reach of those suggested 80’s excesses given to the status quo of the early 90’s death metal peak commercialism translates most easily into the forever underground tonality of Vital Remains ‘Let Us Pray’, a brutal twist upon then-established forms which can tangentially apply to the bigger picture we gather. Here we see a developing precedence for the intensity of ‘Evil Reaping Death’ as a traditional form of the uneasy lines drawn between 80’s extreme metal uncertainties (‘evil’ thrash, black/death, ‘deathcore’, et al.) as it solidified. From that thought we can hone our vision-quest toward the under-reported devotional revelation of ‘Rites of the Black Mass’ from Acheron, blackening death just as we see on “Accursed Affirmations” in Hexorcist‘s damned and capable hands and providing a filthy, raw spectacle beyond ‘Altars of Madness’ (or, even the ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ tape) which is far too tuneful to fully apply to our exploration. More succinctly put, Hexorcist engage in a bestial form of death metal that acknowledges ‘evil’ thrash metal adjacent as well as the soil churned in creation of primal blackened death. All malevolence us channeled via the most rapturous and defiant sub-genre ancestors.

Formed in 2019 between at least one current and former member of Gnosis as well as a key member of defunct but still well-respected black/death thrash metal band Devastator, the stated inspiration for Hexorcist is presented simply as a mix of Possessed, Morbid Angel and Sarcófago and this is a good place to start in terms of transitional acts for ‘evil’ thrash, death thrash and “bestial” black/death metal advent. Of course I present this matter-of-factly not to suggest that this ideal is novel but that their music has inarguably achieved this essence whether it was a basic point of reference or an intended goal of resonance and/or tribute. If we take a closer look at their cover of Devastator‘s “Crucifixion” near the end of Side B, a highlight from the southern Florida black/thrash metal band’s third album in the late 2000’s, we aren’t so much served the archaic beginnings of their present style but a hint of ‘Pleasure to Kill’ which is important for looking beyond Florida death metal (Acheron and Nocturnus still apply, though) to the bigger picture of morbid death/thrash metal, allowing a bit of ‘Morbid Visions’ and ‘I.N.R.I.’ into the greater pool of reflection. The title track, “Evil Reaping Death” sums even more arcane 80’s death forms featuring Hellhammer-esque (or, Dream Death?) breakdowns and bestial whammy-scrawling swells amidst the creeping death/thrash metal blast-pace. It is perhaps a plain point to make on my part but, Hexorcist have done an especially fine job of presenting the absolute right riffcraft and “attack” that is expected when reminiscing about the old gods of evil death-thrashing metal so thoroughly.

Point made, probably too emphatically, but these grand traditions -are- upheld and I’d venture to suggest much of Hexorcist‘s altogether purpose is to bask in the sensation of the old ways; A hugely admirable station from my perspective, especially after spending plenty of time with their first demo (‘Bestiarum Vocabulum‘, 2020) and now this album but I suppose the gawking masses who haven’t been indoctrinated yet have the same two basic questions: Are the riffs worth a shit? Is the songwriting worth a shit? I think I can answer both questions with some enthusiasm for the pairing of “Unblessing the Reverent” and “Proverbs of Pestilence” where we’re first served what I’d read as a crossing of Brazilian black/death cavern and Floridian blasphemic death/thrash precision, an unholy convergence of brutal slander and flaying performance, wailing guitars and the clangorous bells of a church-crumbling breaking the action into manic and irrepressible sections. On the start of Side A these more structured 3-4 minute pieces are typically paired with shorter 2-3 minute songs which are representative of the grand tradition of mid-80’s death/thrash metal, “Proverbs of Pestilence” having enough hit of earliest Hellwitch in its blood enough to knock me out of my seat. Of course if I were to really cut into each organ here and divine meaning from the guts of songs like “Denouncing the Immaculate” I’d still wheel back to the first 2-3 Acheron albums as a blanket statement although without indicating a prominent keyboard presence to match Magus Gilmore‘s and, I suppose from there propose the value of listeners revisiting the ancients who’d first drawn black/death from the apeiron.

Beyond that I’ve very few major points to make — The vocals are particularly effective here, just by ear I think I’d guess this is the fellowe who’d done vocals for the first two Gnosis albums, and I find his voice absolutely appropriate here thanks to a bit of reverb added to the blood-curdle it already supplies. The only song that never elevated under a lens was “Unrighteous Ceremony”, a bit plain per what conviction surrounds it but it nonetheless meets a strong standard. The greater running order is effective on each full listen, and they end the record with the aforementioned cover which is a ripping highlight to end it with. I suppose what stands out most in mind with consideration for their first demo is that Hexorcist have managed to escape the “mush” of bestial death/thrash tradition by way of compelling sub-genre blurring guitar work throughout. Though the truly memorable moments didn’t sink in until the second, maybe third, listen the act of repeating the greater blitz of ‘Evil Reaping Death’ remained encouraging for many more revolutions. This record should rightfully hold broad appeal between ‘old school’ extreme thrash junkies like me, the more rotten sects of black/thrash fandom, and folks who’ve some proper education in black/death metal advent. A high recommendation.

High recommendation. (80/100)

Rating: 8 out of 10.
TITLE:Evil Reaping Death
LABEL(S):Memento Mori,
Unholy Prophecies,
Godz ov War Productions
RELEASE DATE:July 26th, 2021
BUY & LISTEN:Bandcamp
GENRE(S):Death/Thrash Metal,
Blackened Death Metal

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