Hexis are intensity incarnate, unleashing an all-out assault on the senses on their current tour. The Danes’ searing, dissonant blackened hardcore is a sound unparalleled and rightfully so. The band has crafted themselves as an enigma to behold with a provocative, belligerent and abrasive, albeit short, live show. Playing in darkness to begin, venues are subsequently burnt by a stream of strobe lights that make it even harder to comprehend what is going around you as these five men lunge recklessly around the venue, unleashing hell.
This hell is in the middle of a European tour with Swedish blackened core outfit This Gift is a Curse, and the two bands found their way to Ireland for the first time, playing in Belfast, Galway, Cork and finishing off with Dublin on a Sunday night.
How has this tour with This Gift is a Curse been so far?
Tobias (guitar): It’s been great; we’ve visited a lot of places.
Filip (vocals): A lot of new places.
Tobias: We’ve never been to the UK or Ireland before – meeting new people and making new connections.
Being your first time in Ireland; how were the Belfast, Cork and Galway shows and what were the crowds like?
Filip: I think they were some of the best shows so far.
Søren (bass): Especially Cork, I really enjoyed that.
Tobias: I really loved Galway because the crowd [were] really into it. It’s [the crowds] varied a bit but it’s been all right. We don’t care if we play for one man or a goat or Satan or a thousand people. We have fun playing, that’s what we do.
Hexis create an unholy and dissonant cacophony on record and live. It’s unyieldingly aggressive and barbaric but still dripping with cold atmosphere. How do you approach song writing? Do you intend to make it as dark and intense as possible?
Tobias: I guess you could say so. We had one buzz word when we were writing and it was: “more evil”. It’s a joke but it’s also true. I think dark and intense is pretty on it.
Filip: Every time we write new songs, we want to do it more intense and more heavy.
Tobias: Less melodic, more intense, more heavy.
There’s a strong black metal influence at play in your sound. Was that another intentionally crafted element of Hexis?
Tobias: I think it was.
Filip: I think we took most of our inspiration from hardcore bands and not black metal bands, not like the true bands. A band like The Secret take a lot from these old school black metal bands but [for us] it’s some bands like Celeste and Shora.
Celeste is a band you get frequently compared to, sometimes fairly, sometimes unnecessarily. Do you mind the comparison?
Filip: No. They’re my favourite band soo… [laughs].
Another French band that seems to have an influence on your sound, though it’s a little more tenuous, is Deathspell Omega.
Filip: I think the reason we have the Deathspell Omega inspiration is because our ex-guitarist wrote most of the songs and they were one of his favourite bands. But it’s not like any of us.
Tobias: None of us listen to Deathspell Omega anymore.
What other influences and inspirations do you draw on for Hexis? Perhaps those that aren’t quite as obvious?
Tobias: I played the bass until October so I wrote most of the basslines that Søren is playing now. My main inspiration, what I thought would be cool, was to bring in Nate Newton of Converge’s bass playing style. That’s what I like. I don’t know if I managed to do it, but it’s what I was thinking, to give it more of a hardcore edge. The black metal stuff we usually get from the guitars and the bass is more hardcore.
Søren: The groovy parts are more the bass.
Filip: The new songs kind of take from Celeste and I’ve started taking inspiration from Thou and Full of Hell. I like the vocalists from those two bands.
Who is responsible for the lyrics of Hexis?
Tobias: I’ve written a little bit but it’s mostly Filip.
Filip: Yeah, I’m writing most of the lyrics but Tobias also writes a little. I’m hoping in the future I can write it all by myself because it’s more fun to sing something you have written by yourself.
What are the themes and matters explored in Hexis’ lyrics?
Filip: The latest are pretty different in each song. Some of the songs are anti-religion and others are more like personal stuff. The new songs we’re writing… all the songs will be about the same thing. It’s a long story in all songs, like one long lyric.
These new songs that you are working on, is this for a full-length album?
Filip: We’re working on some songs for an album but we’re also doing a split with This Gift is a Curse and Hungry Lungs from Germany.
You’ve released your previous records with different labels. Have you any plans for what labels you will work with for the LP and splits?
Rasmus (guitar): We’ll see.
Filip: Yeah. Right now we’re talking with the singer from Thou [Bryan Funck] and his label Howling Mine. I think his label will help out and maybe two other labels.
Tobias: We don’t know yet.
Filip: For the split with Hungry Lungs, that will be Halo of Flies.
Tobias: We’ve talked about maybe getting some bigger dudes in, if it’s possible. We don’t know. We’ll see when the time comes. We don’t really start to do too much serious stuff with labels until we have the whole thing recorded. We want to pay for the recordings ourselves and do it ourselves so we have maximum control of everything and then go to the labels afterwards. I think that’s the strategy, at least for now.
Just how much of the LP is completed?
Søren: We have eight or seven songs.
Filip: And we’re playing two of them [on this tour].
When do you hope to start recording?
Tobias: We hope, maybe, May.
Filip: We’ll be finished [writing] before but the problem is that we used all our holidays for touring right now. We don’t have more time that we can take off before May.
Does this schedule rule out any more heavy touring between now and May?
Tobias: Well, no because we have tours planned already. We’re going to Cuba in February.
Filip: Then we have some [shows] in Germany in March.
Tobias: We also have some weekend tours here and there. We have two in October when we get home from this tour. We have some small stuff but it’s not going to be that far away from Denmark. Except for Cuba!
Cuba is an interesting choice of tour destination. How exactly did this tour come about?
Filip: A band called Donkey Punch, from France, we talked a little bit with the singer, they had a tour there. We just contacted the people who did the tour for them about maybe touring there as well. They liked our music but also because there’s never been a band from Denmark touring Cuba. It’ll be very interesting.
Tobias: We’re not completely sure if there’s never been another band from Denmark in Cuba but that’s what he says. It sounds a bit strange if no Danish musicians have been there.
Filip: I think it’s a pretty new thing that bands are starting to tour there. I think bands only started to tour in Cuba some years ago.
Hexis’ live show must surely have been honed to new strengths with each show you play and tour you complete. Do you find that your gigs match the intensity of the records or do you feel it’s augmented in force and surpasses it?
Tobias: I think we always try to make the records as close to the live [playing] as possible. I mean, get the same intensity and heaviness that I think we deliver live.
Filip: It’s easier live, to get into the music. For me, it’s something different.
Tobias: You’re in the moment when you play live. It’s different when you’re recording, you can just do it over if you fuck up. We thrive on [playing] live and try to get the recordings as close as possible.
Filip: I think since we have recorded the songs, they have changed a bit when we play them so it can be strange to listen to some of the recordings now. We’ve become better musicians since we recorded.