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Bishop of Hexen

Archives Of An Enchanted Philosophy

HammerHeart Productions

Review by Neil StLaurent

Thanks to HammerHeart for the CD

Eventually it was meant to happen that black metal should lose the entire concept of being metal and mutate into a gothic variant. Bishop Of Hexen has gone most of the way to remove metal from their music. There are no driving guitars here. The focus of the music is the atmosphere creating synth. There are guitars in there somewhere, albeit smothered somewhat in the mix, but unlike most modern black metal the guitar sound exhibits riffs rather than just insanely fast shredding. Indeed the drums are even more subdued to the point where they form a followable beat.

Of course it still is black (but not metal) so the shrieks are still there, and fortunately for those that dislike those over-powering vocals the mixing has combined them very softly. All in all it's this being black but not being metal that interests me: Putting aside the tried and tested forms of Black Metal, Bishop Of Hexen maintain some strong guitar riffs, but have opted to let the synth dominate the music -- and if you listen closely I believe that's the guitar SUPPORTING the synth. No, this is definitely not an album for metal purists. The resulting sound is atmospheric gothic, and dark -- at times (especially the song "Wading Through Sensuous Journeys") I'd venture to call it dark ballroom.

The vocals vary between shrieking, some deep spoken word, and a bit of growling. Frankly however, at some point one just loses interest in the vocals and the emotion of the music overwhelms them to the point where at most, their presence is merely felt as another distorted instrument. This is is good in the sense that it is different, but bad because judging by the lyrics sheet they have plenty of things to tell you.

Bishop Of Hexen is definitely appealing to a slightly different audience than say Cradle Of Filth, which from my point of view is definitely a good thing. In the truest sense, they have a strong European high-society gothic sound. The album is very refreshing, and despite the very questionable mixing, offers some very enjoyable music.

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