Hessian – Mercenary Retrograde

Rating: 2.0/5
Distributor/Label: Urtod Void
Released: 2018
Buy Album: https://urtodvoid.bigcartel.com/product/hessian-mercenary-retrograde-lp-pre-order
Band Website: https://www.facebook.com/hessianhighcommand/

Band lineup:

Angus McFarland – guitars, vocals
Michael Pearce – bass
Greg Souza – drums
Zöey Haab – guitars, vocals


1. I Wish I Was Dead
2. Skull Ring
3. Legpuller
4. Dude Messiah
5. Saint Leopold
6. The Viper
7. Rock ‘n’ Roll Soldiers [The New Order cover]*
8. Manos The Hands of Fate


Looks and sounds like second album syndrome has hit Hessian and it could be down to the loss of Salli Wason who left shortly after the band’s 2016 single, ‘Marrow Black/Evil Witch Man. Angus McFarland who supplied a decent share of the vocal duties on the first album ’Bachelor Of Black Arts’ was to take the reins on this one but in steps Zöey Haab who provides a less than prominent role on this release.

I thought the duets or duels between McFarland and Wason were perfect for the sound of the last album and ‘Mercenary Retrograde’ really doesn’t get near the heights of ‘Bachelor Of Black Arts’. When I saw the tracklist, I thought to myself “oh sheeeeeit this will be a lame one” as song titles like ‘Dude Messiah’ and ‘Skull Ring’ don’t inspire much positive preconceptions. In actual fact though, ‘Skull Ring’ is one of the top tracks from the album taking much inspiration from many of their NWOBHM influences.

There are some great riffs and arrangements throughout but there are a few factors which let the album down a bit. The jagged digital fuzz really takes away from the tone of the guitars and the effective edge of the leadwork is dulled. The main loss is Salli Wason as she took a lot of the focus away from McFarland’s less than impressive vocals. It just worked better as a call and answer arrangement than just McFarland dominating the vocals but oh well; he’s in charge after all.

Hessian have also leaned a lot more on their love of Thin Lizzy throughout which is very apparent on songs like the opening ‘I Wish I Was Dead’ which has some nice, catchy lead work in it. All in all, ‘Mercenary Retrograde’ is okay, not too good, not too bad but rather so so. They have lost some of their charm and the darkness but the instrumentations are still solid if not just imperfectly recorded and produced. Alas, it could have been grander but c’est la vie and woe is me but we should keep an open mind to revisit this band in the future.

Review By Pete Mutant