Demo:listen: Hexenslaught

Welcome to Demo:listen, your weekly peek into the future of underground metal. Whether it’s death, grind, black, doom, sludge, heavy,  progressive, stoner, retro, post-, etc. we’re here to bring you the latest demos from the newest bands. On this week’s Demo:listen, our jaws drop and our eyes widen in utter disbelief of the anachronistic death-thrashings of Seattle’s Hexenslaught.


Have you ever heard the Harmony Dies Vol. 1 comp that Slayer magazine released in 1994? It reissued the demos, each from 1987, of a most unholy triumvirate: Necrovore, Incubus (the Mike Browning one) and Morbid Angel. You won’t find the comp on YouTube–although you can stream the disparate demos there. But that wouldn’t be the same thing as listening to all three of them compiled onto a CD that Slayer mag put out in ‘94, for obvious and not obvious reasons. One of the latter reasons being that apparently there was some attempt to “restore” the sound for the comp. Can’t say for sure, though, having never heard it. So if anyone out there’s a genuine owner of the actual CD and wants to make a good rip, please do send the files our way. We’ll burn that high quality rip onto a nice CD-r (not some Memorex shite) and we’ll throw Hexenslaught’s demo right on there with it. And it’ll belong. Because Seattle’s Hexenslaught nail down a sound on their debut that sounds like the missing fourth demo from Harmony Dies Vol. 1. Ruining the triumvirate, sure, but totally consummating the comp .

With such an old school, pragmatic production this demo is definitely not for everyone. Hexenslaught are clear about their mission, though. As Mike Larson, one of Hexenslaught’s guitarists, puts it the band is in no hurry to appeal to the masses. “I can’t speak for everyone, but this is, by a long shot, my favorite style of death metal,” Larson says. “I can’t stand that dry fucking Sunlight shit death metal, or fucking Autopsy clones (I fuckin’ hardly like Autopsy anymore, you cocksuckers bled their style dry!!!) I’m a particular asshole when it comes to the style [Hexenslaught play]. Basically it sounds like Possessed, Necrovore, Morbid Angel, Mutilated (France), Vader (demos), Grotesque, stuff like that (and all the first Brazilian albums!). Don’t hold me to this, but as of now it is planned to only record short length demos and maybe EPs. We recorded the first demo in one take with 1 fucking mic. Only thing tracked over was the vocals. We will continue in this recording style until our demise.” Larson (who also plays alongside Hexenslaught’s drummer Rick Jelsing in their other band, Slutvomit) may piss you off with his anti-Swedish DM and in-your-face-Autopsy-fans sentiments, but do you disagree with the man? At this point it’s become bands ripping off bands ripping off bands ripping off bands ripping off Entombed and/or Autopsy. We’ll never stop listening to either of those bands, no way in hell, but we respect that Hexenslaught avoid all the diluted tributaries and draw their inspiration straight from the ever-potent source of death metal.

The other half of Hexenslaught, bassist/vocalist Clay Vargo and guitarist Ian Schwab, who also play in the ruthlessly blasphemous Crurifragium, sound right at home slaying this proto-death metal style. There’s a cohesion to the songs on this demo that speaks rackety, feedback-laden volumes of the band’s singular vision and their dedication to it. Larson says: “We had our eyes on the prize from day one, as to how Hexenslaught would sound. I’d say we achieved our goal and will continue doing so in the same fashion.” It’s hard to disagree when you’re headbanging so hard you spil; your beverage all over your laptop during the demo’s banger, “Devil’s Lust.” At least that’s our banger. All four songs that make up Hexenslaught’s self-titled demo are just the perfect blend of homage and hunger, of reckless energy and solid musicianship, of evil thrash and desensitized death. And for a band so firmly grounded in the past, Hexenslaught seem possessed of a restless energy. We’re going to kill the overt lauding lest we jinx them and they split up, but this is one definitely to get psyched on.

Hexenslaught’s demo will soon see a tape release through Invictus Productions. Which means copies won’t last so good luck getting your claws on one. In the meantime, glut yourself for free on the everflowing stream above.

You heard it here first on Demo:listen. Check back next and every Friday for more promising new metal.