That was my first question when I saw the forthcoming self-titled album from Oakland’s masters of harsh blackened mind-fuckery Sutekh Hexen described as their first full-length. They’ve been around for a decade now and have been fairly prolific in that time – they’ve never released a full-length? What about Luciform? What about Larvae and Behind the Throne?
Well…I guess it all depends on how one defines things. Or perhaps on how closely one actually reads the press release. It turns out that Sutekh Hexen, which is due out on March 29 on Sentient Ruin (preorder 2xLP, 2xCS, and digital here) and Cyclic Law (preorder 2xLP/CD here) is their first proper studio full-length.
Okay…same question: How?
Well…here are the album credits:
Initial tracks recorded winter 2012 @Littlefield Concert Hall and autumn 2013 @42nd in Oakland, CA by KGY / Ritter pieces recorded autumn 2014 @EverSo Audio in Madison, WI / Kaiser and Haynes tracks recorded September 2014 @Earhammer in Oakland, CA by Greg Wilkinson / Primary tracks recorded spring/- summer 2018 @Ancient Owl Audio in Berkeley, CA by Ryan Jobes / Overdubs and additional mixing by KGY summer 2018 @New Golgotha in Oakland, CA / Johnston pieces recorded summer 2018 @The Institution in Seattle, WA / Guest vocals on Eye of the Quill via VENIEN recorded summer 2018 (courtesy of Von Records)
TL;DR they’ve been working on this record in fragments for a long ass time.
Hit play on “E Siel Enna Lehcim,” which we’re premiering here today at the Vault, and you’d never know it had that long of a gestation period. Quite the contrary – it’s almost too visceral and immediate, so painful and raw that I can literally feel it radiating through my jaw as it agitates the nerves in my teeth.
Of course, I mean that as a compliment. Sutekh Hexen has always been abrasive listening, but the studio setting seems to have allowed them to focus and refine their sound for in order to more efficiently deliver their particular brand of aural damage. Don’t think of it as a ‘maturing’ or ‘polishing’ of their sound; instead, it’s more like the difference between whipping up a sandstorm and attacking with an exquisitely crafted, finely-honed blade. They both fucking hurt, but they’re entirely different kinds of pain.
The first 2:15 or so of “E Siel Enna Lehcim” are pure blackened noise and structural chaos – essentially a test of endurance for the listener. Then the bottom falls out and it shifts into caustic sludge territory, no less devastating for its slower pace. If you’ve ever seen Takashi Miike’s film Audition, imagine that scene – you know the one I’m talking about – rendered musically.
Listen to this one with headphones on – I dare you…