Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Hexis Live in Manila

While still relatively lesser known compared to that of fellow Scandinavian countries Norway and Sweden, Danish extreme music in general has surely come a long way from the good old days of being largely dominated by the likes of Mercyful Fate and its subsequent offshoot King Diamond. One of Denmark’s more recent extreme music acts slowly making waves both in Europe and Stateside is Copenhagen’s Hexis whose own take on blackened hardcore via their debut full-length “Abalam” captures that severely pissed off feeling I’ve been having myself these past few months (reason being mostly personal which I’d rather not discuss here) more than a lot of metal I’ve heard in my entire life; at least that’s how I felt when I first heard a couple of tracks from “Abalam” played on separate occasions in a weekly program airing on New Jersey-based freeform radio station WFMU[1]. I honestly never expected Hexis to visit the Philippines at all since they’re a relatively new act with only one full-length and a few singles to their name but come February 2017, the band had decided to include not just one nor two but SEVEN stops across the entire country[2]. With three shows in Luzon alone[3], missing out on some fine Danish blackened hardcore just isn’t an option at all so bearing that in mind, I went to Hexis’ second leg of their Philippine tour held last Feb 23 at underground joint Mow’s in Quezon City.

As is often the norm for shows featuring hardcore punk bands from abroad, a bunch of homegrown bands within the said genre geared the crowd up for the long night ahead but while HL/DV and Beast Jesus are more than consistent enough in delivering more than just your usual meat-and-potatoes type of aggressive music, last Thursday’s standout without a doubt was the almost odd one in the entire bill: Calix and skinxbones. Compared to the first time I’ve seen Calix slug it out by his lonesome a couple of weeks prior with only a bunch of backing tracks for company, his set that night with skinxbones on beats and backing rap resulted in a fuller, more enjoyable experience as evident in the moshing and around a handful of shoutalongs during their entire set. Calix and skinxbones’ sound might be miles apart from hardcore punk on the surface[4] but the duo’s unbridled aggression against the various ills of Philippine society is in fact completely right at home with the leftfield sociopolitical stance of hardcore punk itself. Here’s to hoping that Calix and skinxbones would get invited more often in hardcore shows to prove that aggressive music in general doesn’t have to be limited to just your usual vocals-guitar-bass-drums combo.

HL/DV playign at very hgih speed

This is not a meme: Beast Jesus

No strangers to hardcore at all: Calix x skinxbones
This writeup is admittedly a bit shorter compared to the last one I did and Hexis’ 5-song suite that night might have something to do with it. I honestly expected that they’d sneak in a few more songs from “Abalam” but given the breadth of their entire Philippine tour, maybe the band had to considerably trim their setlist down for them to keep up with their hectic schedule, who knows. In any case, Hexis’ entire set might be short and somewhat noticeably lacking in the low end[5] but they more than made up for it by the sheer intensity not just of the songs themselves but of the strobe lights as well that they used throughout their performance[6].

Hexis using those strobe lights they brought along with them to maximum effect

Hexis had already wrapped up their week-long Philippine tour and announced just very recently that they will be coming out with their much-awaited sophomore full-length record called "Tando Ashanti"[7] but thanks a lot to them for being more than game enough to do quite an extensive trek of the country. How I wish more touring bands from abroad would consider doing the same if ever they decide to visit us here instead of merely focusing on Metro Manila alone.

1 My Castle of Quiet”; can’t recommend it highly enough.
2 And that’s just about a third of the total number of stops for their entire Southeast Asian tour; if ever there would be an award for the Most Relentlessly Touring Band of 2017, I would like to nominate Hexis right about now.
3 In addition to two in Visayas and two more in Mindanao.
4 Which made for a more than welcome breather from much of the straightforward hardcore in that night's lineup.
5 Just like my sole complaint whenever I listen to “Abalam” wherein I could barely hear any bass at all.
6 Seizure trigger warnings had to be issued prior to Hexis’ set for everyone’s safety.
7 Totally expecting the bass guitar parts in their upcoming album to be more audible this time around. "Tando Ashanti" is not an attempt to combine black metal with R&B nor would it feature Ja Rule on guest vocals, that much is sure.

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