Hex - Behold The Unlighted

Hex unleash another slab of death doom to begrudge the ears; this time it is a ‘concept’ EP surrounding ‘Darkness.’ While it may seem a little cliché the concept is interesting enough for this Spanish doom death quintet, and compared their humble beginnings back in 2012, “Behold the Unlighted” continues to truck down the same path of sound. A death doom that is similar to earlier or rougher Novembers Doom, the music is more death metal than doom but the atmosphere created by the guitars and vocals along with somewhat fuzzy production certainly dooms things up, but it is nowhere near to the point of sludge or stoner doom, so don’t expect much in the vein of Draconian or My Dying Bride, nor Gloomy Sunday or Grown Below. 

The album opens with the deceivingly quiet and foreboding intro of ‘As Darkness Descend…’ which features piano and some spoken word elements before exploding into the more death metal style that is for fan fans of Immolation mixed with Incantation. The production of the guitars and drums is pretty clear with the vocals a little cavernous and echoing to get that ‘dismal’ feel, but the music trudges on at a mid pace with a bit of groove to keep things interesting. Like most doom tracks mixed with death metal near the end the track tends to wear a bit with the same kind of riffs and vocal style, even though things really slow down to almost funeral doom dredging pace to help the atmosphere sink in. 

‘Impending Doom…’ picks right up where the first track left off, making the album feel a bit cohesive and also like it was meant to be a whole running track instead of 3, much like and Edge of Sanity “Crimson” homage. Still in the mid paced death doom vein the music isn’t much different between the two tracks, but the vocals add a little more variation with some snarls vs. grunts and shouted spoken interludes. More groove here than any of the other tracks, so this is a little more death metal-sque than fans might be used to, but Hex still can stir a pit; it just isn’t quite in full moshing speed mode. 

Least until we get the opening from ‘And Thus Spoke…” which offers at least a minute of ferocious riffing that it makes listeners feel they are listening more to Immolation than anything. And then things slow down- really slow down- for more of a doom metal style that has been missing pretty much through most of the EP so far. We get more spoken word passages but also quieter guitar work and more percussive thunder from the drums as opposed to typical blast beats. Things do speed up again for a bit to close the song out and then everything just quiets down save for whispered, creeping vocals which have fantastic atmosphere effect, but sound like they’ve come too late and make for a dramatic outro that overstays its welcome. 

Still, when one takes into account that all 3 tracks feel like they should run together for an epic 20 minute run time, one has to admire the creativity behind it. Hex definitely have a little stand alone piece that could be its own mini album with “Behold the Unlighted.” Musically, they continue to do what they’ve been doing for years and it still sounds solid, so new fans will be able to enjoy some stability. Older fans might feel the concept album is an adventure unto itself, but also may wish that Hex had also taken some time to experiment more in their sound before unleashing their next magnum doom opus. 

3 / 5 STARS

1. As Darkness Descend Upon You
2. Impending Doom Towards Darkness
3. …And Thus Spoke Darkness