It’s been four long years since HEXECUTOR released their shockingly masterful debut album, Poison, Lust and Damnation. The “shock” wasn’t so much that the French quartet came out of nowhere – indeed, they’d made waves in the underground with their debut demo in 2012 and especially the Hangmen of Roazhon EP two years later – but rather that there existed a band putting an undeniably authentic yet also unique twist on classic mid-‘80s speed metal and thrash. HEXECUTOR weren’t trying to reinvent language; they were simply trying to expand the lexicon a bit, and they did so with astonishing aplomb on Poison, Lust and Damnation.
But, now rested (and wild!), HEXECUTOR return with an even bolder record in their long-awaited second album, Beyond Any Human Conception of Knowledge. If its no-less-considerable predecessor pushed traditional tropes, Beyond Any Human Conception of Knowledge topples them altogether! It’s all recognizably HEXECUTOR – and immediately, charismatically so – but swirling in their cantankerous cauldron of old Slayer, Razor, Destruction, Sepultura, and Merciless is a passion for classic hard rock and heavy metal and coated in the feeling of Bathory‘s Blood Fire Death and Manowar‘s Into Glory Ride. Thus, this second strike is a much more EPIC one, all without striving to be “epic” in the pejorative sense. It’s all twisted with grace and gnarliness, in equal measure, as one will find filtered traces of Thin Lizzy, Uriah Heep, Blue Öyster Cult, UFO, and even the Eagles as prominently as those of Deströyer 666, Absu, Gospel of the Horns, and Vomitor. HEXECUTOR even touch upon just-as-classic black metal and death metal mainstays as Morbid Angel, Sweden’s Dawn, and early Necrophobic, Darkthrone, Gorgoroth, and Satyricon…but again, simply hearing Beyond Any Human Conception of Knowledge is witnessing the band’s widescreen yet still-wild ways. Slowing down doesn’t mean wimping out, and diversity can be a wondrous thing when handled with care and class. In a word, magickal!
Then again, a recording as momentous Beyond Any Human Conception of Knowledge is underpinned by a deep and thoughtful thematic, relating directly to HEXECUTOR’s homeland. As heavy metal is a great medium to relate legends and epic stories, HEXECUTOR chose to glorify the beauty of their folklore with a concept album based exclusively on myths, factual history, and fantastic tales kept alive by the oral tradition and collected by authors, folklorists, and poets such as Anatole Le Braz, Paul Sébillot, or François Cadic.
It bears repeating that Beyond Any Human Conception of Knowledge is a momentous event, and it’s suitably graced with amazing artwork courtesy of Skelethal’s Jon Whiplash. HEXECUTOR here have delivered a modern classic!