UK prog metallers HeKz are another one of those bands that I’ve been meaning to check out in more detail but just haven’t had the time to do so. I’ve heard bits and pieces of their first two albums but I finally have a more formal introduction with this review of their third album, “Invicta.” While it’s common to compare many “traditional” prog metal bands with Dream Theater, HeKz isn’t quite the same as DT. They are technical for sure but the vibe is more in line with countrymen Haken, in my opinion.
The main issue I have is that while I do think “Invicta” is a good album, after many listens, it’s just a good album. The musicianship is solid but never overblown, the vocals are also solid but somewhat limited, and the songs just aren’t as hook laden as I would have preferred.
In many ways, HeKz remind me of Evergrey. They are quite good at what they do but I’m not blown away by it. That’s not to say that I don’t think it’s of high quality. Bassist Matt Young has a good voice but his upper range can be a bit strained and limited at times. Yet he sounds great in his mid range. The start “Line in the Sand” is a good example of how good his mid range is. Drummer Kirk Brandham kicks some ass all the way thru “Invicta” in the same way that Scott Rockenfield drives Queensrÿche along.
Stylewise, HeKz can be compared to power metal and prog metal, they walk the line a bit. They even incorporate a more bluesy metal style on tracks like “Trecena.” It’s a bit slinky and yet just off-kilter enough to be prog. Yes the album still has an epic in “The Devil’s Coin” which wouldn’t sound out of place on an Ayreon album. Tracks like “Quetzlcoatl” (what?) and “The Light Fantastic” are upbeat, ass kicker tracks that will sound good live.
“Invicta” is an album that I think other people may enjoy more than I do. Maybe my expectations were too high going in? Regardless, HeKz are a good band that make good music. With the sheer volume of music that I listen to, it takes a lot to REALLY impress me now. “Invicta” is close but not quite there for me. Maybe HeKz has a masterpiece to come.
1. Quetzlcoatl (6:08)
2. For Our Lives (4:13)
3. The Light Fantastic (4:44)
4. To The Lions (5:10)
5. Ultimatum (6:07)
6. Line in the Sand (9:42)
7. Trecena (4:49)
8. Pariah (4:12)
9. The Devil’s Coin (15:03)
10. Victorious (5:39)