Hexentanz - _Nekrocrafte_
(Agonia Records, 2011)
by: Dan Lake (6.5 out of 10)
_Nekrocrafte_ is an Agonia release sporting a grim, monochromatic cover image of the Horned One cum minions in all their bestial Christian mockery, and whose sub-three minute first track, comprised mostly of ominous rumbling ambiance and a harmless fiddle-scratched melody, precedes a handful of songs that tend toward five minute run times. Smart gamblers should now be liquefying all assets to bet on the imminent brain-numbing blast-beatdown to follow. Thing is, those odds-makers had better find a way to explain to the kids why Santa's not coming this year. Because Hexentanz don't play black metal, nor death, nor doom, nor any other subgenre you could name. They play something... different. Thank Satan.

In fact, "play" might be entirely the wrong word for the Virginia quintet's earnest exploration of medieval Witches Sabbath rituals, authentic period instruments and all. Without irony or possibly even enjoyment, the members of Hexentanz offer a ceremonial soundtrack for the "primal rite awakening the dreamer in the flesh of the celebrant". Accompanied by a two-page missive detailing the purpose and mechanisms for communing with the "living daemonic intelligences", _Nekrocrafte_ attempts to draw the listener into the practical implementation of these rites rather than engage in metal's often overstated caricature. The means employed to this end include various primitive percussive elements, vocal chants, some super-evil rainsticking, bells, and the kangling -- a trumpet formed from a human thighbone. I fully expect this last to gain popularity in high school marching bands any day now.

The moonlit, sylvan result is certainly convincing, though ultimately perhaps not as alluring as intended. Sonically, _Nekrocrafte_ evokes similarly ritualistic offerings by Blood of the Black Owl, Karl Sanders and Diamanda Galás, but while these artists espouse naturalist, historical and humanist themes respectively, Hexentanz emphasize their thoroughly occult agenda. While the album is certainly unique, it leaves no doubt that this music is mere accompaniment for a much grander multisensory event, and the effect is rather limp without the full experience. Resorting to cliché: guess you had to be there.

Contact: http://www.hexentanz.us/

(article published 22/8/2011)

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