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Saxorior - HEM - 94%

Edmund Sackbauer, November 8th, 2019
Written based on this version: 2019, CD, Einheit Produktionen (Digipak)

This band’s name is kind of a word play melting „Saxon“ and „Warrior“ into one synonym. Hailing from said region it is obvious that the band members feel a deep connection to the mythologies and legends having their origin around their place. With Einheit Produktionen they found a perfect partner to express their artistic visions and deliver a majestic, melodic yet relentless piece of heavy music. Having been active for the quarter of a century it should not come as surprise that the level of professionalism is very high and all details perfectly fall into place.

Instead of trying to find a completely new sound Saxorior took inspirations from the big Scandinavian bands of the nineties and injected some of their own ideas to make the music come across fresh and energetic. The main riffs might sound familiar but some of the chord progressions feel like a modern twist on something that has been written three decades ago. A lot of the trademark chops are repeated over and over again but often with subtle variation lending the music a very stringent character. Each song presents touching and often glorious main themes perfectly fitting to the stories told through music.

The greatest aspect of the album is how the pagan harmonies of the lead guitars have been woven into the whole picture and how they work as contrast to the aggressive riff attacks. Saxorior have a fantastic talent for creating haunting and beautiful melodies that feel epic and often melancholic but also offer glimmers of hope at the same time. They have worked with the interaction of musky moments and lighter pieces and has melted all those elements into one great piece of captivating and eerie art. The ambient soundscapes dwelling in the dark build a fantastic and gloomy atmosphere.

The songs are very consistently constructed and even when the tempo is upped the music never gets too chaotic or nervous. The melodic hooks and harmonies are lending the whole record a subtly catchy character making it easily enjoyable also for fans of other metal genres. Some of the songs have implemented key notes and details from gothic or melodic death metal underlining the accessible nature. Powerful and haunting vocals are accompanying the instrumentation. The glorious main themes perfectly harmonize with the lyrical context.

The production is pretty much flawless with the guitars and drums sounding powerful and punchy. The mix is perfectly clear making all the details and different elements easily audible. While some might argue that black metal needs more rawness I think that “Hem” highly benefits from this approach. The artwork is amazing and the album therefore worth getting in the premium digipak edition. The optical value and the hands-on feeling of this product is outstanding and of the highest quality. The cover illustration also is among the most beautiful ones I have seen so fans and collectors should not miss out on this one.