It is safe to say that I’m not exactly a massive fan of the second album by the Swiss female quintet, ‘Hexenhammer’, so when it was announced that Nuclear Blast were going to reissue the 2017 debut alongside four-track live EP from the following year, both of which were originally issued independently, I wasn’t exactly jumping for joy. But you know what? Having listened to these I can now see why Nuclear Blast signed them as although I still don’t like the follow-up, the debut shows definite promise. This is good old-fashioned heavy metal, straight down the middle with nothing fancy. Produced by V.O. Pulver (Pro-Pain, Destruction, Nervosa, Pänzer) and Destruction legend Schmier, who helped and advised as a close friend of the band, one is taken back in time to when it was all about energy and emotion as opposed to splitting into multiple sub-genres.
Seraina Telli has an edge to her voice, which is just right with the pummelling guitars, and although I rarely listen to music like this these days, I soon found I had a smile on my face as they powered through. The original album ended with Priest’s “Jawbreaker” (can that song really be 25 years old? I feel ancient!), and while there is no way they could ever capture the original power, this is still a fine version. The live EP contains three songs from the debut, plus Dio’s “Holy Diver” which they didn’t exactly do justice to on ‘Hexenhammer’, but here it makes far more sense. Possibly they were rushed into the follow-up after signing with Nuclear Blast, as this is far superior to that, and fans of straight-ahead heavy metal could do far worse than look this out.