Updated: Mar 6
Hanzel und Gretyl have been churning out their Americanized take on the Neue Deutsche Härte movement since 1993. Their tongue-in-cheek album titles include Born to be Heiled, Scheißmessiah, and Black Forest Metal. Blending industrial metal with elements of black and death metal, Kaiser Von Loopy and Vas Kallas have some of the best riffing and heaviness this side of the Atlantic. With their ninth studio album Hexennacht, the duo uses neo-pagan imagery and themes in their tones and lyrics, with their downtuned guitars chugging like no other. Across its twelve tracks, the disc is another landmark in the NDH scene, with some of the heaviest and catchiest tracks this side of the underworld.
The title track kicks things off with a grim, stomping rhythm that I’ve found myself humming, even days after hearing the song the first time ‘round. The guitars are punishing, and the main riff is a treat. “Draconia Teutonic” is a beast of a riff, with blast beats and harsh vocals evocative of black metal, another subgenre that the band has played with for the last couple of records. “Null” feels grand and epic, with more delicious tremolo picking to pull at the guitar strings and the heartstrings.
“Vultures ov Death” picks up the pace with more fine riffage. The double kick patterns in “Wolves and Witches” are a nice touch for the drum work. “Jägermond” has eerie synth riffs, a “HEY HEY” chant that is begging for crowd participation, and above all, it may be one of the strongest tracks in the band’s entire catalog, let alone this disc. “Der Kaiz3rn8or” employs more electronic elements than the first half of the album did combined, and it sounds like essential HuG.
“Hellmeister” is another mid-tempo banger of a track, as it gives way to “Triple Hexxx.” This may be the danciest, most groove-laden song on the album, and one that may leave one unsure of whether to bang their head or break out the goth two-step. The fun gives way to the brutality with “Cursed Be,” which sounds downright hellish. Granted, that is what we’ve come to expect from HuG, but damn if this isn’t up there among the most evil-sounding in their quarter-century-deep vaults.
“O Great Hekate” is another epic song, with choral chants and a marching, stomping rhythm worthy of worship. “Eine Kleine Hexennacht Musik,” aside from its joyous pun name, brings in more prominent electronic elements to make a fine conclusion to this epic work. There is a hell of a lot to love about Hexennacht, and without having heard much of this black metal phase of HuG’s music, if this work is any indication, I’d be fine and happy with another record or two in this same vein.