Hessian – Mercenary Retrograde (Urtod Void)

Monday, 17th September 2018
Rating: 9/10

Regular rotating in this scribe’s playlist has been the discography of Hessian – a Maine band that penetrate the heavy music scene through their blend of infectious guitar harmonies, evil melodies, and all- around enticing songwriting that promotes a bygone era of the 1970’s and early 80’s. Guitarist/vocalist Angus MacFarland has assembled a new set of musicians to back up his ideas – so welcome to guitarist/ vocalist Zöey Haab, bassist Michael Pearce, and drummer Greg Souza. What hasn’t changed from their last full-length Bachelor of Black Arts is the band’s knack for transforming blues-based chord sequences into these firestorms of churning riffs and transitions that keep building instinctively into aural ecstasy personified.

Even when the band choose to incorporate acoustic guitar textures or older organ supplementation for the epic “Leopold”, Hessian never lose the map as far as jamming out to an energetic, almost southern rock meets Zeppelin-esque instrumental conclusion over the final third of the arrangement. Adept at shifting gears in doom ambiance for “The Viper” or pumping up the Thin Lizzy twin harmony aspects against a thick bass groove for “Skull Ring”, it’s hard not to spontaneously headbang or simulate air instrumentation to these hypnotic tracks. Much like High Spirits, Angus and Zöey know when to hone in for that specific three chord sequence that invites audience participation – adding in some surprising saxophone solo action for the closer “Manos The Hand of Fate”. Progressive textures appear in “Legpuller” – Angus’ desperate, multi-dimensional vocal delivery dripping with Peter Steele-like darkness while the lead break traverses classic Iron Maiden gallops.

Mercenary Retrograde contains sex and death lyrical content – a marriage made for metal in general, right? It shouldn’t be surprising that Hessian also think outside the box for a New Order cover with “Rock and Roll Soldiers” – owning this interpretation by cranking up the distortion and making it even more metal than anticipated. Living and breathing for their 70’s metal/hard rock/ punk roots, it’s obvious through each record how this quartet win over bands and audiences globally, and this will once again cement their status as prime metal movers.

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