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Hex A.D. – Funeral Tango for Gods & Men Award winner

Hex A.D.
Funeral Tango for Gods & Men
by Mark Machlay at 05 October 2021, 6:37 AM

The brainchild of multi-talented vocalist and guitarist Rick Hagan, HEX A.D. spent no time hibernating and got right to work with their latest record “Funeral Tango for Gods & Men”. The Norwegian doomish, blues and psychedelic-infused version of hard rock has slowly been growing in membership ever since their first record, “Even the Savage Will See Fair Play” in 2014 in which Hagan handled all instrumental duties. Two years later, with the release of “The Last Nail in the Coffin Lid”, the band grew to include organ, mellotron and all-around keyboard man Mags Johansen. The membership would then expand to include bassist Arry Gogstad on 2018’s “Netherworld Trimphant” with Hagan’s brother Matt sitting in as a session musician. Matt Hagan would then be promoted to full-time member for their next record, last year’s “Astro Tongue in the Electric Garden”. It was rather unfortunate timing for a band to release an album just two months before the world would be engulfed by an ongoing pandemic that continues to threaten the livelihoods of touring musicians worldwide. Thankfully, the band were undeterred and started writing material just weeks after they released their previous album.

It’s no secret that the general emotion of the world can be quite grim at times, lately, and HEX A.D. seem to be reflecting that sentiment. Musically, the album dives even darker and takes an even deeper ride than other records in the band’s catalog. That doesn’t mean the music isn’t as varied as before, quite the contrary, in fact. With the many musical backgrounds of the members, listeners may be surprised to hear THE EAGLES-inspired guitar and vocal harmonies, old school blues riffs, and catchy hooks combined with the band’s ever-present trademarks such as big epic passages, doomy riffs, vivid storytelling and ever mysterious atmosphere. Singer and lyricist Matt Hagan says, “This record includes my most personal and honest lyrics to date. I love to write about horror movies and creepy stuff, and I have gone there on a few songs this time too, but I have for the first time included deeper and more personal themed lyrics.” Unofficial 5th member Rowan Robertson provides lead guitar solos on a couple tracks along with Ronni Le Tekrö adding his unmistakable lead style on the final track.

I thought I was getting a complete package when HEX A.D. released “Astro Tongue in the Electric Garden” just last year, but the band have pushed themselves into new stylistic territory on “Funeral Tango for Gods & Men” and it is a masterpiece of a blending of varied genres and pushing new boundaries. From the gothic organ beginning, reminiscent of OZZY OSBOURNE’s “Mr. Crowley” but taking an even more sinister GHOST-like playfulness, the album starts off with a bang with the grandiose instrumental “Naadegave”. “Seven Blades” follows with the JUDAS PRIEST chuggy number before later giving room for psychedelic synths and a spot-on bluesy guitar solo to set the creep mood. I also feel as though vocalist Rick Hagan has ventured into not just new adventures in his upper register but also experiments with a heavier, more distorted vocal style I had not yet heard before. The slow burn of “One Day of Wrath, Another Gesture of Faith” pays off with a doom-sludge anthem with an exquisite quiet and eerie section that provides the atmosphere for the smoky Ritchie Blackmore-like guitar solo into a haunting keyboard solo. I do wish they could get some clearer production going. I understand it may be a stylistic choice to muddy up the tracks a bit, but I wish the vocals were clearer for one, the guitar’s chug had more bite and the drums were a bit more present. But the production is a bit of a personal gripe for me and takes almost nothing away from such a great move forward for HEX A.D. and proof that great classic rock inspired music can still be written and done well.

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 9
Production: 7

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1.Naadegave
2. Seven Blades
3. Got the Devil by the Tail
4. One Day of Wrath, Another Gesture of Faith
5. Painting with Panic
6. Hell Hath No Fury
7. All the Rage
8. Positively Draconian
Lineup:
Rick Hagan – Vocals & Guitar
Mags Johansen – Hammond Organ, Church Organ, Mellotron, Moog, & Piano
Arry Gogstad – Bass
Matt Hagan – Drums
Record Label: Freshphoria
     


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