"Witch rock" is a phrase that's both utterly meaningless ,and utterly meaningful—its utility and importance comes down to who is wielding it, and in the case of New Zealand trio Hex, the "witch" appellation is quite apt indeed. "'Witch rock' taps into the long lineage of the angry and hysterical women," bassist and vocalist Kiki van Newtown explains. "We are acutely aware of how 'witch' has been reframed over the centuries to keep women hostage, and with our music we want to strengthen and celebrate the reappearance of the witches who are stepping out of the shadows."
Citing PJ Harvey, Opeth, and Noisey faves King Woman as major influences, Hex have certainly got the "slightly spooky dark rock" formula down pat, but aren't afraid to mix it up with a bit of sneering garage rock ("Page of Pentacles"), down-tempo riot grrrl ("It Begins With a Man") or big, fat 70s psych grooves ("The Gardener's Prayer"). Sinuous riffs and van Newton's versatile pipes propel the release, drawing on divine feminine energy to propel songs of sex, secrets, and social rage.
"The Hill Temple was written and recorded across seven seasons in Jason’s garage in Wellington, New Zealand," van Newtown tells Noisey. "We wanted to create a big, muscular sound that would deliver intense and emotionally complex and layered ideas like axe blows. The whole experience of recording and mixing was very much informed by this being a feminine album. We focused on listening, absorbing the sound, and making changes instinctively, guided by the maxim ‘how would a woman do this?’ The album is full of imperfections. It’s raw and human to us."
"This album is about big feelings. On The Hill Temple, it’s not theoretical. The songs draw directly from our daily lives and we often use allegory in order to tell truths while protecting ourselves. Themes of the heart are sewn through the record: love and lust; friendship and betrayal; birth and death. These are all cauterized together with the power of precise and intentional feminine anger, which is one of our most precious and sacred treasures. The Hill Temple is a ceremony and a therapy session. It is destroying billboards and working in a community garden and holding your friends and crying. But mainly it is about gathering up your feminine rage and using it as your power."
Listen to it in full below, and preorder it here. Scroll down for tour dates, too, including the band's maiden voyage to SXSW.
Catch Hex on tour in the States next month:
March 2nd // Los Angeles, CA // La Cita
March 3rd // Bishop, CA // Mountain Rambler
March 5th // Oakland, CA // Octopus Literary Salon
March 6th // San Francisco, CA // Bottom of the Hill
March 8th // Portland, OR // Turn! Turn! Turn!
March 9th // Oakland, CA // The Golden Bull
March 13th // Austin, TX // The Lost Well
March 14th // Austin, TX // NZ Showcase @ SXSW
March 15th // Austin, TX // Stephen F. Austin Hotel
March 16th // Austin, TX // Austin Taco Project
Kim Kelly is spellbound on Twitter.