Review by Peter Coates – www.facebook.com/InsideEdgePhotography
A female three-piece rock band from the UK is not completely unusual, and Häxan, from Cardiff in South Wales is definitely a band to keep your eye on, already performing at venues such as Download Festival UK, touring with a diverse bunch of bands including Phil Campbell & The Bastard Sons, Electric Six. The Subways and Status Quo, as well as some shows with our own Massive, they’re not just ladies, they’re rock stars ready to take the stage.
The UK has a pedigree of quality all-girl rock bands whose focus has always been on producing quality, and heavy music, rather than having a focus on glamour – Rock Goddess or The Amorettes rather than the Runaways!
Recorded at Stompbox Studios in Wales, the forthcoming new album was produced, mixed, and mastered by Todd Campbell (Phil Campbell & the Bastard Sons) who’s helped Sam (vocals/guitar), Harriet (bass), and Jess (drums) reach a higher level with their music, and even managed to complete the album under some of the strict lockdown measures in place!
The opening to Damned If You Do is like a frenetic combination of The Donnas and QOTSA, smacking you in the face like a piledriver, with the lead vocals delivered by Sam Bolderson with a touch of menace, and some challenging harmonies, while Jess Hartley gives her kit an absolute beating at a breakneck pace, which does not let up! Phew what an opening to your debut album!
A crushing riff opens up Killing Time and develops into a swaggering anthem with a brilliant guitar hook and some awesome harmonies in the pre-chorus, and these just get eclipsed by the chorus! Sam delivers a tasty solo over the pulsating backing before blasting through to the close with more of that guitar hook. The pace continues with Nine Lives that is driven by Harriet Wadeson on Bass and Jess on the drums while Sam delivers a piercing vocal line, and intersperses the riffs with some subtle guitar breaks, and a nice line in harmonic in the solo. This is certainly guitar-driven power rock that gets the feet tapping and the pulse racing.
One of the more complex tracks of the album is Grave Digger which really has an old-school classic hard rock feel of Sabbath or Dio to it, and a number of contrasting styles all held together through the power of the underlying guitar riff. The opening chorus comes in before the verse and sets the song up for what already feels to be something of an epic. The power of the guitars under the solo makes one wonder what will happen live, but the wall of sound that the ladies deliver should cover that! More of the same, but different, with Louder Than Words delivering a thrashing guitar backed by pounding toms and a snare that is just so crisp. Bassist Harriet is clearly hammering away in the back, showing some deft touches through the track, and laying down some sharp accents with the drums.
There is a bit more of the groove in the feel to Black Sheep, and Sam provides an emotive vocal performance in the opening verse, and this then dives into a massive chorus that competes with anything Halestorm has delivered in their much longer history – “let me introduce myself – I’m a Black Sheep Baby!” This is an absolute cracker of a track, and the power builds and builds until the solo erupts from the backing with real venom, and the harmony vocals towards the end are a real contrast to the guitars, but provides the perfect complement to them.
The vibe continues with the ridiculously catchy riff and rhythm to Crash and Burn which may be the most commercial pop-rock track on the album – really simple and delivered so effectively, with an infectious double-snare beat which kicks the song along. The opening single off the record is a monster – 5 ½ minutes of pulsating distorted guitars and a chorus to die for – Skeletons is a tour-de-force of quality modern hard rock. Bass and Drums sit back on the beat in the verse and just hold back the coming flood of power that erupts through the pre-chorus, and continues through the chorus, and into the solo – Sam is not a flash guitar virtuoso and the solos are low-key but fit the backing and the overall feel of the songs. There are some cool call and response vocals in the back-half of the song, and the energy is incessant through to the final chord!
The album closes with another chugging rocker in Living Dead, which has a slightly theatrical Marilyn Manson industrial rock feel to the verse, and transforms into a more melodic chorus and a bunch of massive powerchords, with a grandiose rock opera closing segment which seems a fitting end to this masterful debut record.
There is such a lot to like about the band and this album – it is a refreshing and honest collection of melodic power rock songs, delivered by a band who are as tight as can be.
Tracklisting – White Noise
1. Damned If You Do
2. Killing Time
3. Nine Lives
4. Grave Digger
5. Louder Than Words
6. Black Sheep
7. Crash and Burn
9. Living Dead
Possible 2020 Australian Tour Dates :
23 Nov – Melbourne (AUS) – Rock The Boat Pre Cruise Party,
24 Nov – Rock The Boat Cruise (AUS) – w/ Suzi Quatro
Sam Bolderson / Vocals and Guitar
Harriet Wadeson / Bass
Jess Hartley / Drums
To pre-order NOW, click here: www.haxanofficial.bandcamp.com
Official Website: https://www.haxan.co.uk