December 16, 2019 Hanzel und Gretyl – HEXENNACHT (Album Review)
Bold mechanized beats, wolf howls, and growls that emanate from the incendiary bowels of Hell: we give you Hanzel und Gretyl and their latest beast, HEXENNACHT. Metropolis Records summons the witches to deliver the offering on Friday, December 13th, 2019.
Though they frequently spit German tirades, do not be confused: Hanzel und Gretyl are an American duo. Composed of Guitarist/Vocalist and Programmer Kaizer Von Loopy (a.k.a. KyzrWölf) and Vocalist/Bassist Vas Kallas, the Industrial Metal twosome has been raising scheiße since 1993. Their 1995 full-length debut, Ausgeflippt, provided the impetus for a career that has seen a hiatus as well as solo projects, but also tours with the likes of Marilyn Manson, Rammstein, My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult, Ministry, Cradle of Filth, and more. Hell, they’ve even had Slipknot open for them! (Yes, you read that right.)
Having begun as a synth-heavy Industrial Metal outfit, Hanzel und Gretyl have slowly shifted toward the inclusion of Blackened Death Metal influences in their music. If this is your thing, rejoice! HEXENNACHT (“Witch’s Night”) is full of doom and gloom, lush, arena-worthy guitars, and pulverizing blast beats. Much like all of their previous albums have had an underlying conceptual theme, the 12-song latest descends into the Bavarian forests to craft a bloody, black mass that is as aesthetically alluring as it is sonically haunting.
With delicate plumes of ash falling from the autumn sky, HEXENNACHT opens to its titular track, a demonic witch’s chant that embraces old blood magic along with a synth-dusted Black Metal sound. This evil marches straight into “Draconia Teutonik,” which, unlike its predecessor, is sung mostly in English. Here, an angelic choir opens the gates of blood and gore for Kallas’ howls as he dwells in darkness once again.
Thick guitars surge into the crunchy rocker “NüLL,” a track that amalgamates disparate elements that somehow work flawlessly together (i.e. a soaring choir and dirgey guitars). With arms open wide to extinction, this doomy deliciousness paves the way for another sludgy inferno full of punishing blast beats, “Vultures ov Death.” Then, it’s only appropriate that the wolf howls to introduce the brutal skulk of “Wolves + Witches.”
They continue to revel in a Gothic, Neo Pagan autumn with the entrancing synths of “Jägermond” before delving into the album’s least fitting track. The electronic-laden “Der Kaiz3rn8tor” is the odd one out here: a song that, while entertaining, is weak in comparison to its predecessors and does not fit the collection’s concept. The fat bass stomp of “Hellmeister,” however, serves as a perfect bridge between the hex-y bulk of the material and “Jägermond.” Together, the pair of songs prepare the listener for one of this offering’s exceptional highlights: the dramatic epic of “Triple Hexxx.”
Hexes, wolves, and witches… Oh my! Blessed be “Cursed Be,” a culmination of all of the previous offerings with some truly infectious guitar licks. As our magical tale of earthly gloom begins to wind to its conclusion, the nearly six-minute “O Great Hekate” summons an eerily Gothic congregation of greatness. Wrapping up the entire package, “Eine Kleine Hexennacht Muzik” takes the witches, their furry familiars, and synths, and creates a steady stomp that is both danceable and the perfect note to close on.
Like an October rite that transforms flesh to fur amid the dense forests of Bavaria, HEXENNACHT dares you to defy its call. Sure, Hanzel und Gretyl beat you over the head with their concept—save for that oddling “Der Kaiz3rn8tor”—but it’s an aesthetic that works beautifully amid the pair’s Blackened Death Metal take on Industrial. Morbidly poetic in its storytelling, ferocious in its sonic landscape, HEXENNACHT is that brand of macabre that oozes into your blue heart and turns your magic black. Celebrating season’s blast beatings, Cryptic Rock give HEXENNACHT 4 of 5 stars.