HeKz / Celebrating A New Generation Of British Prog

Many of us prog rock fans first came across HeKz at the Chiswick Invasion, a yearly event set up by Thomas Gers to raise money for the Nordoff Robbins charity. This set of gigs, held in a school hall in London W4, was endorsed by Iron Maiden and their management team. Us music journo’s were absolutely blown away by the debut of this young five-piece band, who were way more mature than their years.

Fronted by the very talented singer/bassist Matt Young, HeKz were as polished as any seasoned old-school prog band, and we were all very excited about their future.

Ten years later, and with a change of personnel, I am honoured to hear their brand new album, Terra Nova, and I am truly in awe of what this young band has achieved with this new set of songs. It is packed with complex key and tempo changes, orchestral augmentation, keyboard excellence, on-point backing vocals, and anthemic choruses. Then there’s frontman Matt Young’s vocals, lyrics and impressive bass playing.

As the title track Terra Nova kicks in, I know this album is going to deliver on so many levels. It’s trademark HeKz to the power of 10.

“Terra Nova is a perfect example of HeKz’s distinct fusion of intricate musicality and raw emotion,” explains singer and bassist Matt Young. “It kicks off our live show with a blast of energy, and everyone on the stage gets their chance to shine. We really love to play this one and hear the audience shouting the chorus along with us! It’s one of the highlights of any performance.”

The accompanying video for this first single from the album seamlessly weaves together electrifying moments from the band’s return to the live stage at the Underworld in Camden (September 2023) and the album launch spectacle at the Cart & Horses (November 2023), capturing the raw energy and intensity of these unforgettable performances.

Back to the album, Sabotage takes us on an aural journey with extreme highs and lows as it ebbs and flows through Young’s own documented journey with the darkness and light of life. Horizons is a soaring guitar-driven, fast-tempo tune with an absolute belter of a chorus – it’s a driving force song that takes us further on this journey through Terra Nova.

Mayday begins frantically and fast, a progressive song that features Young’s bass chops. The production is superb on this track, and it deserves to be played loud and in full stereo.

HeKz - Terra Nova - Live Dates 2024
HeKz – Terra Nova – Live Dates 2024

So Far Gone is Prog Metal at its finest. The song begins with Matt as his softest. Pitch perfect and raw but then as the band kick in, it lifts and lifts into a crescendo that will give anyone goosebumps. It’s grandiose, and that’s not a word I use often. As the violin from Lucia La Rezza drifts in and builds, this song becomes so multi-layered. Then, there are the genius keys that evolve. Added into the mix is a serious guitar solo. These instruments almost become another voice in this epic song.

The Tower is a song that really delivers lyrically and once again it’s time for the violin to shine in this darkly brilliant track. Each verse is so clever. As the song builds, it’s a metaphor for Young’s storytelling of a tower literally being built. Clever stuff.

Lifeline kicks in now and gives us a little breather from the wrath of the tower. It’s deep and dark and slowly complex. Too Far Gone is the singalong anthem of the album. I dare you not to sing at the top of your lungs to this chorus. Young has always been the master of creating tracks that are either too complex to sing along to, so you just enjoy it. On the other hand, he delivers songs that are instant earworms that you can easily chant along to, and this is one for sure.

Silent Man is the penultimate track, which begins with tinkling piano and orchestral violin. There is a slight note of one of my favourite other bands, Queensrÿche. It has that Geoff Tate concept style as it sums up the trip that we’ve been on with Hekz for the last hour.

The album ends with Terra Nova II, and the aural journey is almost complete. It’s about the road you choose, which pretty much sums up life as Matt sings, “We are at journey’s end.” Well, that was certainly a musical journey of brilliance, incredible musicianship, wordsmithery and my mind is blown.

Like the finest of prog musicians, Hekz are a band that are just as good live as on record, so please do yourself a favour and get along to see this group. They’ve received phenomenal fanfare and incredible critique from all the other music journalists, and they truly deserve this acclaim. This truly is British Prog Metal at its best.

HeKz play Parkvilla Theatre, Alphen a/d Rijn, The Netherlands on 12 April and Nene Valley Rock Festival 5th-8th September. Find out more here.

March

08mar7:00 pmHeKz - The Cavern, Raynes ParkThe Cavern

June

28jun7:00 pmHeKz - Esquires, BedfordEsquires

August

17aug7:00 pmHeKz - Victoria Bikers Pub, LeicesterVictoria Bikers Pub

September

20sep7:00 pmHeKz - Cart & HorsesCart & Horses

October

20oct7:00 pmHeKz - The 1865, SouthamptonThe 1865

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