Hessian specialise in “old metal”. You know the kind, right? Rusty, time-ravaged odes that tip their hat to the founding fathers of Angel Witch, Thin Lizzy, Priest, Pentagram, Sabbath, Necromandus, Budgie, Cirith Ungol, Diamond Head, Manilla Road, Mercyful Fate and Witchfinder General; bands who transcended mere sounds and created whole worlds in their place. Basically, Hessian worship the old gods and they ain’t too shabby at mimicking them either!
Hessian main man Angus McFarland sounds like a heavy metal Bryan Ferry of Roxy Music, with his wobbly, off-kilter delivery adding a sense drama to Hessian’s classically constructed music and certainly sets Hessian apart from their peers. His is a voice which will divide opinion but in the context of Mercenary Retrograde it works!
Opener “I Wish I Was Dead” sounds like a mishmash of Metallica and Thin Lizzy licks but it works well enough, with Angus’ anguished refrain of the title echoing in a manner not dissimilar to Arthur Brown. Worming its way into your sordid cerebral state, it’s a song which jars at first before finding its feet and becoming bewitchingly alluring.
The suitably macabre “Skull Ring” follows and ups the Thin Lizzy-isms with its morbid melodies colliding with the classic doom of Trouble. Again, it’s hard to get a handle on its juxtaposition of influences but Hessian are masters at making this shit work, and work very well!
These are head-banging tunes of the highest order and even the ludicrousness of “Dude Messiah” takes relatively basic riffs and conjures magic from them. Basically, you’ll be smiling and nodding your head in approval in next to no time and by the time “Manos The Hands Of Fate” rolls by (title taken from one of the worst films ever made, which also makes it perversely enjoyable….much like this album!), you’ll find yourself a fully fledged member of the Hessian fan club!
In a strange twist of fate, Hessian seem to sound like everyone and no one, with their otherworldly occult rock/metal seeming to re-work the sounds that emanated from the late 60’s through to the early 80’s while funnelling it through their own, retrograde, approach. 7/10
Mercenary Retrograde is available now via Urtod Void/Blasphlegmy Records.
Angus McFarland – guitars, vocals
Michael Pearce – bass
Greg Souza – drums
Zöey Haab – guitars, vocals