Häxan – White Noise
Release Date: 24/07/2020
Running Time: 42:34
Review by Dark Juan
A splendid afternoon to you all, you beautiful bunch of bitches and bastards. Hopefully I find you all headbanging your little heads off and quaffing liver-bursting quantities of fine ales and meads and shoving outrageous quantities of delicious viands down your avid throats (unless you are vegetarian or vegan, in which case shove whatever makes you feels good down your neck and enjoy the fuck out if it). Hang on, this begs the question as to whether oral sex is vegan if the people doing it are both vegan? Does anyone know if a bacon aficionado is NOT vegan in this regard? These are important facts I’m asking for a friend…
Dark Juan Terrace is currently reverberating to British (the band has members from England and Wales, yes it IS a separate country) three-piece hard rock band Häxan. The dogs are cowering and Mrs. Dark Juan is threatening dire and painful retribution (here’s hoping. Hopefully she will break out the inflatable mongoose, the steak knives and the puncture repair kit this time) unless I turn it the fuck down because we have acquired neighbours. My point of view is that they should have researched whether the house next to theirs is a Palace of Metal before they fucking moved in.
Yes, Häxan. House reverberating. Loud hard rock. Right, we’re back on track. It’s very nice to listen to some fucking good time rock and roll instead of the increasingly violent and unpleasant extreme metal I normally enjoy. Häxan provide an excellent soundtrack to an afternoon’s drinking and debauchery (Disclaimer – I am neither drinking nor debauched at this point. I only finished a 48 hour shift a few hours ago) as they are a catchy as fuck hard rock band who are fun to listen to. Taking everything that was great from the glam and gutter rock of the 80’s and 90’s, Häxan have delivered a very solid record for a debut long player. For a bloke of a certain age who can remember this style of hard rock’s popularity the first-time round, it’s a full-on classic nostalgia trip – all bombast, vocal harmonies, snot nosed attitude and killer fucking riffs.
The record opens with ‘Damned If You Do’ which is a damned fine opening gambit. Starting as if an old 8-track tape player was spooling up we immediately enjoy some up-tempo guitar work and drumming before the deceptively sweet vocal of Sam Bolderston (Guitar, vocals, Welshness) kicks in – I enjoyed the little tip of the metaphorical millinery to Royal Blood’s “Ten Tonne Skeleton” in the first verse too. Sam’s voice is easily able to carry menace and power even though she sings in quite a high register and she is capable of conveying a most dangerous attitude through it also. Second track in is ‘Killing Time’ and this is where the band show off their harmonic singing skills. There are a lot of harmonies throughout the record, but this song is fucking brilliant for them. Also, that fucking chorus, butty bach. That fucking chorus. I’m weak at the knees. It is well known that Dark Juan is a sucker for a good chorus, but right now I’m lying prostrate at Häxan’s feet professing undying devotion because they have massive…. choruses. Behave yourselves.
Special mention has to be given to lead single ‘Skeletons’, a damned fine song (which I don’t believe is the strongest song on the album) and album closer ‘Living Dead’ (which IS the strongest song on the album by a country mile). ‘Living Dead’ is just sublime hard rock. It has EVERYTHING. Sam gives it the full beans vocally (I love her voice to bits) and Harriet Wadeson’s (Bass, non-Welshness) harmonising is spine-shiveringly good. It sounds like it was written for “The Ultimate Sin” era Ozzy and there’s a wonderful counterbeat on the cymbal and it’s just a classic fucking tune, man.
The demerits – Whoever produced the cymbals wants shooting. They have managed to make live recorded cymbals sound as if they are sequenced and artificial, which is an absolute travesty and I am really quite cross about it because I have to take a mark away for it because it slightly spoils my enjoyment of a balls to the wall, organic sounding rock record. Everything else is grand – the guitar is meaty and readable and rifftastic, bass suitably bowel-churningly low and growly and Jess Hartley’s (also not Welsh) drums punchy and powerful . ‘Louder Than Words’ is also a mark off because it is very weak compared to the rest of the record – the girls have already proved they are far FAR superior to that tune. Apart from that one slip up, Häxan have created a debut record of uncommon poise and power and confidence. I fucking love them. I love them that much I’m giving them a bonus mark back just for ‘Living Dead’ because it’s so fucking awesome. Don’t question my judgement!
In conclusion then – this is the record Rock Goddess should have made. Häxan are THAT good. They are close to perfection already. All that’s required is better quality control in the songwriting department and someone who doesn’t hate the sound of cymbals recording them. Pay attention to Häxan, for they are going to be fucking COLOSSAL!!!
The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System (System Sgorio Splat Gwaed Tywyll Juan Patent. Probably wrong. Don’t care. I’m only doing Welsh for Sam) awards Häxan 9/10 for an almost perfect debut. Dear ladies, you have a new, very excitable and slightly demented fan. Abandon hope for Dark Juan has appointed himself your champion. You poor things.
01. Damned If You Do
02. Killing Time
03. Nine Lives
04. Grave Digger
05. Louder Than Words
06. Black Sheep
07. Crash And Burn
09. Living Dead
Sam Bolderston – Vocals, guitar
Harriet Wadeson – Bass
Jess Hartley – Drums
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