Saturday, May 30, 2009


Hex Machine
Omen Mas

Dirtiest rottenest south | MINIMUM UNDERDRIVE

"Who was metal before metal was cool? Sliang Laos, that’s who. Back in the early ’90s, the Richmond, VA outfit achieved obscurity by exploring the not-yet-fashionable region between death metal and punk. Trends have changed, of course. Lamb of God, a band that namedrops Sliang Laos in interviews, entered the Billboard album chart at #2 in March. So, is it any surprise that Hex Machine, a band that features Sliang Laos guitarist Scott Hudgins, sounds of the moment?

Actually, it’s hard to imagine Hudgins’ big chewy chords going out of date. Both he and fellow Richmonder Pen Rollings (of Breadwinner and Loincloth fame) have a preternatural talent for coming up with the perfect combination sputter and swing. Why isn’t the guitar part on “Nurse Me Back to Hell,” the second track on Hex Machine’s debut Omen Mas, the most obvious thing in the world? Why doesn’t everyone play like this? Or at least try? The answer probably lies in what my Richmond pal John calls Hex Machine’s southern rock vision. (This might also explain why drum genius Dave Witte left the band.) Hex Machine have a Virginia swagger that—as much as this ex-Roanoker is OK with it—might be a bit too sleazy for those outside of Dixie. Nothing captures a sticky summer night in Richmond quite like “Black Skeleton,” a humid doom crawl that makes Khanate seem like bespoke-suited cool jazz. Seriously, it ain’t pretty. But if you can’t handle the heat, it’s best to stay away from the former capital of the Confederacy."

—Brent Burton

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