The Levitation Hex debut definitely wasn't something for metal traditionalists, and the same is true for their sophomore album “Cohesion”. It is another case of extraordinary music that will mainly appeal to people who don't place any constraints on their taste in music. Adam Agius, frontman of the Australian four-piece explains the goal the band had for their second LP: “Our goals were purely to create music that the band members were happy with. We don’t follow any trends and see music as an expression of our selves. We did try and change things up a bit for our own interest and had a very broad scope for the creation of ‘Cohesion’. We kept it simple and at times pretty upbeat. We are happy with the result so I guess you can say we achieved our goals.”
To many reviewers the Levitation Hex debut was the logical consequence of what they had been doing with Alchemist, especially during “Tripsis” days, only a bit simpler and heavier – would Adam say that “Cohesion” goes down the same road, or are The Levitation Hex eventually emancipating themselves from Alchemist? Adam on this: “I would say that ‘Cohesion’ is way more THE LEVITATION HEX and less Alchemist in sound. We are finding our own sound now and it came together very naturally hence the title COHESION. I think the most Alchemist sounding song is ‘Waste of Worry’. I don’t think too much about it as I can only be myself but yes, I guess we are moving away from the Alchemist sound and moving into our own identity.”
The album has been in the making since 2013. Seen from the outside, one can assume that it must be a real effort to come up with so many complex ideas – but Adam finds this question rather puzzling, and he also has to say some interesting things about what metal has become like these days: “We just don’t understand how people can think its complex. It’s pretty straightforward with most of the tune still in 4/4. It was time-consuming to put it all together but I would not say that it was difficult. People who might say it’s complex are probably looking at it from a traditional rock or metal perspective and that’s fine, but I can honestly say my guitar parts are very simple indeed. We think that metal has become very unrebellious and bands are just happy to re-create the music of their heroes. Many fans will not even consider listening to music that does not fit inside a neat little box and that’s something we are not interested in creating, even if that means we won’t be popular.”
“Cohesion” was recorded over a couple of years in a studio in Canberra called “The Brewdio”. It was mixed at the same studio and engineered and produced by Kaarnt Herating and Ima Deffman. “Cohesion” brims with a variety of sounds and moods you don't usually get from a run-of-the-mill metal record. It also includes mellotron and organ parts, but no synthesizers at all – a fact that was of great importance to Adam: “We like the use of instruments other than guitar to flavour certain sections of the music. In the past I had used synthesizers many times in Alchemist and as I said before, I wanted to move away from the Alchemist sound, so I decided that there would be no synths at all on this album, and I really like the eerie sound the mellotron creates.”
“Cohesion” is a lot like the debut in that it’s impossible to put a label on the music – it is simply too unique and multifarious, cherry-picking from Stoner & Space Rock, Psychedelic and 70s progressive rock, all based on a solid ground of old school Thrash and Death Metal. One of the highlights of the album is “The things that time can't mend”, beautifully opened with and ruled by hypnotic guitar work that has an oriental feel about it. Adam tells us about his own favourite parts of “Cohesion”: “I like that track also just for its aggression and the way it ends and strips down to mellotron instruments, timpanni and mellotron choirs. I also love ‘Disrate’ for its upbeat thrashy/punky feel and the Voivody outro. I also love ‘The Reflection’ for its more straightforward Metal approach, and I love ‘Hipokritikill’ for its song structure and its light and dark passages. That song also encapsulates the essence of ‘Cohesion’ pretty well, and so does ‘Energy Refund’, too.”
Adam also explains how the title and the lyrical concept of the album fit together, or rather, how they don’t: “The title is maybe a little separated from the lyrical theme. The title is a representation of the band members coming together in a cohesive manner. The lyrical theme is that of a spiritual questioning (NOT RELIGON!!!!!). The basic idea is that of being something beyond your physical form. It was a subject matter that Mark and I found interesting and so it came very naturally.”
Just as for the eponymous debut, artwork duties for “Cohesion” were handled by Sydney-based illustrator and graphic artist Glenno Smith, who once again did an amazing job.
Since the vinyl release of their debut, things surely must have changed for The Levitation Hex, right? And where will the next release probably take them? “That’s right, things changed a lot. The debut enabled us to start building a following and it’s been great to see our shows growing in attendance here in Australia. We hope that ‘Cohesion’ will build on that and we are building our initial Australian tour now, we hope to get to some more regional shows with this album and not just the major cities.” That’s good to hear, because “Cohesion” screams for being listened to live – so hopefully the Canberra quartet will come over to Europe again?
“Oh yes, we will be touring Europe in 2017 at this stage, but it might be late 2016 if things all fall together. We are talking with several promoters and festival organisers, so it all hinges on that coming together, but no matter what, we will be back to Europe for this album. We will also hit South East Asia.”
In the end Adam has a message for those who usually like their music neatly boxed: “We believe this album to be a very easy listen and would really like traditional metal and rock fans to at least give it a go. Try just at least listening to it a few times, and come catch us live if the opportunity presents. We are a great live band and that is where we can turn peoples heads and open their minds.” So be brave, get this record, see them live and let The Levitation Hex expand your music horizons.