Monday, January 16, 2012

Sutekh Hexen - "Larvae" (2012) [Handmade Birds Records]

San Francisco trio Sutekh Hexen has received quite a bit of praise for their more than steady output of indecipherable, incredibly harsh black metal. Beneath walls of stagnant noise harsh enough to make even the mighty Vomir cringe, Scott Miller and Kevin Gan Yuen spun audio nightmares told at a speed almost as fast as their release output. Looking back on my review of their last release, the blistering Luciform, I had made a comment about Sutekh Hexen's brilliant decision to keep from evolving their sound, as their talent in this specific field needed no tweaking, and yet, with new addition Lee Camfield and a wildly progressive new album on the way, I find myself proven wrong.

After two years of grating gestation, Sutekh Hexen has emerged from the womb, and this new form is as glorious as it is horrifying. The newly birthed Larvae shows Sutekh Hexen moving out of the downward spiral that is "black noise" and bringing something new to the table; something ugly. While staying to their ruthless, churning, "more noise than metal" roots, Larvae marks the inclusion of something completely unheard of in "black noise" circles: musicality. Unlike previous albums, whose almost inhuman, mechanical performance was as expected as it was consistent, Larvae's embrace of brilliant, albeit subdued melodies, and chiming acoustic guitars offer a respite from the chaotic, tortured madness of their back catalog. This new found sense of epic melody does not keep Sutekh Hexen from their signature harsh sound, often pitting layers of noise against harmonic bliss, whether it be the heavy, metallic guitars and harsh noise walls of "Isvar Savasana" or the quiet, meandering neofolk and found percussion of "Let There Be Light"; Larvae is best visualized as a two-headed beast, each mouth ravenous for sustenance and dominance in a constant, all out war with no end in sight.

Sutekh Hexen have really come into their own with the simultaneously inviting and revolting Larvae. A brilliantly composed juxtaposition between the crawling chaos of noise and the brilliant luminosity of modern black metal, Larvae is not only a step forward for Sutekh Hexen, but for raw black metal as a whole. Larvae will be up for pre-order soon from the always stellar Handmade Birds Records.


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