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Hekz: Invicta
Hekz - Invicta Music Review

Hekz: Invicta

Progressive Rock/Metal
4.5/5.0

Some three years on from their last studio album, UK's Hekz returns with their third long player, Invicta. Meaning "unconquered," the album has an overarching theme, as explained by the band. "Invicta is a celebration of perseverance and resilience. The ten songs come together to form a story of betrayal, loss, reconciliation and hope. Far from straying into the realms of fantasy, the songs are rooted in real experiences, reflecting the triumph and defeat that we all encounter on our journey through life and, in the case of the latter, how we can choose to be consumed by it, or fight on and emerge stronger." If that piques your curiosity, you can read more about the songs and the lyrics in this PDF document. But we should venture into the music next.

Hekz Band Photo

Hekz

After one spin, I was ready to judge this album by the the things I didn't like about it. Yeah, I know, starting on a negative slant is not usually the best thing for a review. But we've all done the same thing at sometime, so hear me out. Some misgivings revolved around vocalist and bass player Matt Young who, with little doubt, has some strength, range, and versatility to his voice.

But with the latter came some weirdness like his staccato voice over drums at the start of Quetzlcoatl or the straight up screamo sound within To The Lions. That totally put me off to the song and, in turn, made the rest of the album suspect. Alternatively, elsewhere Young sounds amazing, commanding and melodic, especially within Pariah, Trecena, and the wonderful Line In The Sand. So, honestly, it was unfair for me to quibble about two songs which, musically speaking, are actually quite fine. For example, after another turn or two, Young's vocal presentation within Quetzlcoatl made perfect sense, matching the music.

And the music of Hekz is their greatest strength. Speaking to the aforementioned Line In The Sand, it's one of the more gentle songs here which builds upon Young's voice, some synths, and light guitar. It quietly increases with musical emotion to a finishing guitar solo in crescendo. Other songs move with twists in tempo and time signatures or the simple juxtaposition of heaviness with lightness. (This is prog after all.) These things are explored in Quetzlcoatl, Victorious, Ultimatum, and the album's opus, The Devil's Coin. Within that last song, the arrangement sways back and forth between stiff riffage and moments of gentleness, notably in the first half. A breakdown comes at the midpoint with soft drums and bass accompanied by light guitar. When the song begins to build again, a synth solo follows, and then the song remains steady and heavy. Later, about 11 minutes in, a bass flurry kicks the song into a faster gear with lively drums and spry guitar work to the end. The Devil's Coin is definitely an album highlight. Lastly, of all the many elements, I found the guitar lines, especially the solos to be terrific and satisfying throughout. If you like your lead guitar solos, you will love this album.

In the end, despite some initial distractions, I found Invicta to be typical Hekz: creative, explorative, and entertaining progressive metal. Get it. You won't be disappointed.



CraigHartranft.net - New fiction, crime fiction by Craig Hartranft

The Bottom Line

Despite some initial distractions, I found Invicta to be typical Hekz: creative, explorative, and entertaining progressive metal. Get it. You won't be disappointed.

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