Die Hexe’s debut EP is fantastic. Their mix of metalcore and crust-punk, while stylistically natural, is a combination I haven’t encountered much. Other than the exceptionally bleak account of a relationship ending on “Battle Axe,” most of these songs are political and violent, both common themes in crust-punk.
“Jaws” comes off like an accusation. Despite the radical nature of the majority of the lyrics, there’s an atmosphere of cynicism aimed towards people who the lyricist seems to have at one time considered allies or friends. This theme finds its way into the lyrics on “Welcome Home” as well. “Long Live the New Flesh” and “All Masks Fall” speak of defeat and the stubborn idealism that often precedes it. The former’s final lyric mirrors the first line of the latter, a seemingly deliberate move to highlight their common themes and emotional scope.
On Bandcamp, the Pickering, Ontario natives refer to themselves as “pretty noise,” and I couldn’t have said it better. The EP’s opening track, “Battle Axe”, has a painfully cliché title for a metal song but masters the skillfully melodic chaos pioneered by bands like Norma Jean. The sluggish dirge on “Jaws” is more like a Touche Amore track. Its punishing groove and gorgeous guitar leads evoke a sound more like screamo than metalcore. The vocals stay within the metalcore canon, however, creating an interesting contrast. “All Masks Fall” is similarly slow and heavy, this time in a way similar to Underoath‘s Spencer Chamberlain-era, doom-oriented songs.
“Long Live the New Flesh” opens with a screeching guitar riff and jagged, rhythmic pattern that sounds a little too similar to the output from Underoath’s most popular lineup. As a result, the originality fostered on the first few tracks is unfortunately lost. The first half of the song sounds like a great upbeat metalcore single, but multiple shifts in tone makes “Long Live the Flesh” sound like three different songs. The vocals have a slight twist, and they’re coarse and like something you’d expect from crust-punk rather than metalcore. “Welcome Home” treads similar ground for the band, but its abrupt ending is a pleasant twist that made me want to keep listening.
While it makes no sense within the context of the rest of the song, I love the beautiful post-rock vibe near the end of “Long Live the Flesh.” It provides a useful look behind the curtain of Die Hexe’s influences and how they managed to infuse all of their chaotic moments with a hint of beauty and grace. Thankfully they embrace the punk ethos of brevity rather than post-rock’s tendancy towards a grandiose opus, otherwise these songs might come off as overwhelming and then tired. It’s rare that a heavy band mixes such dense musical elements with short songs, but the combination is refreshing and exciting.
Written by Brian Charles Clarke
*edited by Kate Erickson