Provo, Utah's Despite Despair looks to have been around for almost 15 years now, but just-released EP Hexen has been my first real exposure to their work. The group was named after a lyric from the (fellow Provo legends) Parallax song "Dent," which is a very good sign, and indeed these four songs in just over 12 minutes offer up intricate metalcore that's both melodic and abrasive. There are some commonalities with Parallax, of course, and a few Botch-isms, too; but the overall feel is generally less technical and chaotic, favoring a subtly darker atmosphere.
It's tough to select an obvious standout, but something about the energy of "Hexennacht" edges out. Granted, it, the dissonant surges of "Into the Light," and the rhythmic density of "New Cold War Blues" all connect with similar force. Closer "Atheist's Prayer," however, is a scream-free acoustic piece accented by piano and handclaps, presenting a very different vibe.
The lyrics are abstract enough to remain open for interpretation, tending to deal with undying persistence in the face of near-apocalyptic hopelessness; while strong production pans the guitars for added texture/detail—leaving plenty of room for lightly distorted bass right in the center.