Atmospheric, raw, guttural. Hekseblad is a Witcher-themed American Black Metal band. Yes, you read that right. Composed of just two members, vocalist/writer, Bruxa, and multi-instrumentalist, Frosk, this Halloween the darkened duo are set to release their debut four-track EP, The Fall of the Cintra.
An Ill Fated Meeting leads us very slowly, methodically, on an upward path into a world of epic fantasy. The music matching the lyricism as we’re detailed the dark, magical world we’ve stepped into, while also giving us a look into the narrator’s mind, The Witcher himself. “Hatred for those not of their kin. Do not question where I have been. Blood stains the streets of Blaviken.” After our intense introduction to this world, the track slows us down, washing us in a slow, sullen, almost beautiful melody before a guitar is quickly strummed, building back a rising tension. While I’ll leave the identity of the character itself out of this review, and allow you to experience it yourself, the song does build itself up to a death of somebody seemingly close to The Witcher, and leaves us with: “Her blood slicks this cobblestone street. The crowd gathers casting their stones. The Witcher is again alone”, brutally establishing the tone for the four-track EP.
Full of blast beats and gnarly vocals, The Night of the Long Fangs brings us deeper into the world of The Witcher, describing a town haunted by a vampiric beast and needing his specific expertise. “Hide in your towers, bar the city gates, summon the White Wolf,” Bruxa’s lyricism continues to bleed, seeping into your ears, not shying away from the inherit darkness of their EP’s reference material, ending the track with the defeat of the monster.
Obsidian Star, the third track of this EP, is soaring and searing at the same time, a black metal love song about two of the main characters of The Witcher franchise. “For I could not love a world that cast us both aside, to never know the light of violet eyes, or how they burn with the fire of an Obsidian Star exploding,” while this verse is being murmured, the guitar-work begins to feel old-timey, stepping away from the Black Metal sounds explored thus far, and instead feeling like the score of The Witcher itself. Lyrically and musically, I believe this is a stand-out track, easily my favorite.
Then we find ourselves in the midst of a brutal battle with the titular track, The Fall of Cintra. Living up to its name, we experience first-hand the bloodiness of war between the kingdoms of Cintra and Nilfgaard. “Swordsmen and Archers coming with their banners draped in Black. The Queen failed at Marnadel and her Husband paid the price.” A lot of the instrumentals on this track remind me almost of a hardcore song, the way the riffs feel chuggier and the drums have an almost two-step beat to them. It doesn’t feel entirely out of place, however – instead, it adds to the aggression of the violent scene the lyrics are depicting. “Calanthe, Queen of Cintra. Calanthe, the Queen of Shit!”
The Fall of Cintra, a four-track debut EP from American Black Metal band, Hekseblad. A formidable entry into the genre, and will soon establish them as a house-hold name for anyone interested. While obviously having a knack for writing the dark instrumentals themselves, the duo know how to market themselves well, and will find themselves fitting nicely into the niche they’ve established – the cross-market between Black Metal and The Witcher. The EP is dark, brooding, and overall an almost gruesome experience that brings us into the grittiness of this Epic Fantasy setting.
Hekseblad – The Fall of Cintra
(Out October 31st)
An Ill Fated Meeting
The Night of the Long Fangs
The Fall of Cintra