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Quality re-issue with plenty of bonus material - 80%

soul_schizm, February 23rd, 2016
Written based on this version: 2016, CD, Metal Blade Records (Remastered, Special edition)

On a lark I looked up Hexx on Facebook, and discovered they planned a re-release of their first 2 albums via Metal Blade records. My only copies of the material were in cassette tape form, and I was never able to find either vinyl or CD versions. Needless to say, I hastily put in my order for this package, and it has been gracing my car CD player for the last week or so.

This is a recommended purchase if you loved Hexx's early career, but either lost touch with them or had poor copies of their music. The songs are re-mastered and sound great. The artwork is crystal clear and, as I understand, is either very close to the original or matches it (front art, back art, inserts, etc). In any case, each CD has the look and feel of something hot off the presses in the mid-1980's. With a 30 year old band re-releasing their best material, that's pretty much the point isn't it?

Beyond the obvious joy at being able to experience Hexx's incredible "Under the Spell" CD in all its glory, there are several other worthy additions to the package. In fact, you can think of this as a sort of Hexx brain dump, intended to give you everything Dan Watson & crew can dig up from this era of the band, delivered in one tidy package. There is the very mature and listenable "Under the Spell" demo, featuring nearly every song from the album plus some insight into how the songs evolved from that point until the final recording. For example, the chorus of "Edge of Death" started out as a clumsy "Waiting on the Edge of Death!" passage wedged into the music. Thankfully it was changed to its simpler, more listenable form for the final release. And the opening instrumental features parts that were eventually rolled into another song on the final album.

The original Paradox demo is also included, with 2 songs that eventually wound up on the No Escape debut album. And yet another demo from 2013 featuring Hexx's first vocalist Dennis Manzo is here as well. Over the past 2 years Hexx has been dipping into both the No Escape and Under the Spell eras, recording brief demos and live sets along the way. There are even a couple new songs featuring Dan Bryant! Don't get too excited though; these are well-recorded but would need some polish if they were to be released as part of a new Hexx full-length album. And since Eddy Vega is the band's current vocalist, it is likely that any new material will be recorded with his voice. Eddy's a solid vocalist in his own right, as can be heard in a 4-song live set included on the 2nd CD.

In fact, several live sets are present, spanning the entire history of the band, and including material with each of their 4 lead vocalists. A DVD is included with all sorts of live video, ranging from a 2015 performance with Dan Bryant featuring decent video and sound, to a 1986 performance in Oakland with VHS-quality video and sound that is barely listenable.

Dan Watson penned a history of the band in an accompanying booklet, broken down into Under the Spell and No Escape sections. Some of the stories are humorous, although perhaps only to older fans like me. Most of the material on the CDs is mentioned in the booklet, which helps to tie together the entire package. I always enjoy reading an old metalhead recounting "the good old days."

All new material aside, with this box set the book is now officially closed on what was a promising young band who were snuffed out of existence before they ever really began. Very few will ever see this, I’m sure. But for us lucky few, it’s a great little trip down memory lane. I guess Facebook is still good for something.