Fancy some psychedelic forest folk rock? Might sound unusual and not something you see (or hear) every day but describes Hexvessel and Kindred to a tee.
Release Date: 17th April 2020
Label: Svart Records
Formats: CD / DL / vinyl
The fifth album sees the band come full circle, returning to Svart Records with whom they released their debut album, Dawnbearer, ten years ago. It’s been a decade that’s seen nominations and awards from the Finnish Grammys and acclaim from Prog and Metal Hammer. The “The Doors misplaced and found wandering in the vast forests of Finland” label adding to weight the ‘forest folk’ tag.
Recording saw the band returning to the original studio in Tampere, Finland, where they recorded their cult classic No Holier Temple, which fused Hexvessel’s folk roots with an occult undercurrent. So not only full circle but a link to the current work.
A current work where main mover, Mat McNerney pulls together all his influences that range from Black Metal to the musical arts to lead on a unique sound and exploratory album. One that varies between acoustic reveries and quivering patches of psychedelic delight.
Billion Year Old Being gives a hint of what lies ahead. The haunting march (complete with references to temples made from human skeletons and the incantation of the title) interrupted by a frenzied mid-song instrumental diversion. One that echoes jazzy King Crimson at full pelt. That or a Seventies TV drama car chase, all before an easy-paced outro.
The cinematic spaghetti Western vibes on Demian come sprinkled with some satanic majesty and a cover of Coil’s Fire Of The Mind comes live from a mental institution. “Man is the animal” indeed – topped by mournful strings on top of the basic rhythm. The opening guitar notes reminiscent of the Hotel California where of course “you can check out any time but you can never leave.”
Discordant tuned and untuned percussion adds a nightmarish and improvised weirdness to Sic Luceat Lux but the Nick Cave influence, never too far away, at its strongest on Phaedra. The bluesy psych-rock and forest light falling into his footsteps provide a haunting dirge. A patchwork of melancholy background sounds bleed out as he tends to the weeds in his mother’s garden. It’s a mesmerising tour de force that’s taut and ominous.
Slightly lighter relief is taken care of with a pastoral acoustic vignette and Joy Of Sacrifice provides a parting shot with a bleak lullaby that won’t cure any insomnia, the insistent guitar patterns hypnotic yet chilling.
Darkness and mystery reign, be it edging towards a more commercial and accessible vein or in some bizarre nightmarish concoction. Music to soundtrack Peaky Blinders or as the Game Of Thrones characters wander beyond the wall.
Opting for a murky and at times bleak path, Kindred is the sound of Hexvessel creating a potent ‘hex’ to add to their ‘vessel’ of sound in spell-binding songcraft. It is indeed magical and damned.
Listen to Phaedra here: