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CD review: Hectagons! 

Appalucia Militia; Release date: Jan. 18, 2013

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Hectagons, a band which swarms the listener from all sides with a plethora of instrumental music, chose the perfect name. Formerly a trio, guitarist Wyley Buck Boswell, drummer Ricky Culp and bassist Korey Dudley are now joined by Justin Aswell Blackwood's samples via Maschine. What could easily become a cacophony on the band's debut album instead finds a balance of riches within its quartet of talent allowing the songs to dominate instead of becoming a showcase of individual band members' talents.

Trying to pin down Hectagons' sound over the course of the album would be impossible as identifying all of the influences on one song is hard enough. At times hectic, at moments atmospheric, Hectagons have the ability to swirl a variety of emotions and styles within each song without them becoming confused or jumbled. Elements of math rock, jazz, prog and metal fuse within the 11 songs, which range in length from under three minutes to more than six. The band quickly goes from charged up to brooding, from subtle to symphonic, sometimes in a matter of moments.

Blackwood's conga-like samples introduce the album's fourth track, which then takes its Battles-like guitar riff and travels toward Primus territory with its haunting bass undertones.

Boswell transforms many songs with his fretwork without letting it stray into guitar-sturbation. He finds ideal times to shred and moments to hold back in order to let the song simply carry the listener along. At the same time, Culp's drums force the tempo without crashing the mood, while Dudley's bass contains the groove and Blackwood slips in digital footprints. It's solid songwriting which sounds improvised but stays contained well within the pocket, while pushing at its edges.

Each song presents a Helmet-meets-Anthrax-meets-The Mars Volta-meets-Frank Zappa-meets-Rush-meets-Miles Davis non-repetitive, instrumental journey that keeps the listener interested and immersed, but never confused. Just when you think you have the band's sound or song figured out, they stop in their tracks and find a new road to keep your attention focused.

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