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Hexvessel - Dawnbearer CD (album) cover



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5 stars This album is a mystical trip to the deep secrets of the forest, where spiritual existence is a dominating power. Hexvessel have a personal style, composing music that is dreamlike, and transport you to a world of sorcerers. Their mellow, gloomy and illusory atmosphere is achieved with very original musical style, that successfully combine elements of medieval secular music with progressive rock music and psychedelia, coming up with a purely unique sound that reflects the magic and deep mystical power of nature. In more musical detail, instrumentation, use of harmony, vocal technique and texture all play a central role in creating the unique style in Dawnbearer. For me, the main recipe is the mellow, deep timbre of the vocals and the guitar, that are carefully placed on the slightly detuned character of all the instruments, that create this ultimately mellow, harmonious coexistence with nature, or more like being part of it. The modal melodies that can be found, along with the fiddle-like sound of violins, which are put against a sweet, vintage mellotron sound, successfully create the wanted soundscape. Finally, the lyrics also reflect the atmosphere, which all have a middle-ages forest myth character. Generally a very unique album, which is perfect for fans of folk rock music, 60's psychedelia, prog rock, and generally all fans of good unique music.
Report this review (#961671)
Posted Saturday, May 18, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars Whiffs of the occult have flickered about the edges of the psychedelic folk and dark folk scenes for quite some time, but Hexvessel go above and beyond with it on this debut album, beginning with an invocation of hidden spirits and taking us on a mystical journey through the woodland, culminating in secret ceremonies in sacred groves. Their commitment to this concept is impressive, and they have the mystical musical chops to back it up.

Some have tied it in with the neofolk scene, though it seems to be genuinely apolitical (as opposed to the sham- "apolitical" that bands with dodgy politics like to claim they are even when they transparently aren't), leaning much harder on the occultism angle that some sections of neofolk play on and much less on nostalgia; whereas some neofolk bands like to dream of a long-ago pagan time that never truly was, Hexvessel are living a pagan life right here and now.

Report this review (#1728778)
Posted Wednesday, May 31, 2017 | Review Permalink
Prog-Folk Team
2 stars Thanks to my inadvertent settings on Spotify, I have been doggedly directed to HEXVESSEL by a disembodied virtual CD changer, only to slowly recollect that I added them to progarchives several years ago. A variety of valid reference points exist for this generally somber "forest folk" offering. Because the group is Finnish, apart from its leader, a British transplant, and because of their generally morose affect, my first observation is that they might be compared to countrymen TENHI, although here lyrics are English. More importantly, whereas TENHI's repetitive motifs tend to be sufficiently captivating on their own, yet ultimately deliver more, those of HEXVESSEL too often remain mired in neutrality, in need of augmentation that never materializes. This is especially apparent on most of the instrumentals, like "A Cabalist under the Gallows" and "Radiant Transcendent", which might have worked as bridges between songs if they were bisected.

Occasionally, particularly on the opener "Invocation Summoning" and "The Tunnel at the End of the lIght", the ghosts of 1980s era DAVID BOWIE or GARY NUMAN are lurking, seemingly the antithesis of the organic sound being sought, but I suppose neo folk as a pseudo-genre does conceal this lineage several pages into its resume, and leader Mcenerny cannot fully cloak his doom metal past, to the point where "Conversations with Rosa" could swap out acoustic for electric guitar and have almost the identical dampening and emotionally numbing effect, which leaves me profoundly disappointed.

Luckily, "Dawnbearer" is somewhat salvaged by a handful of superb performances scattered throughout, albeit a bit too sparsely to be wholly satisfying, and, more importantly, never permitting the immersion required for full appreciation. "Heart of the Mind World" is the first of these, with a wistful lead vocal and effective backing vocals in the absence of lead at the interludes. My favorite is the banjo enriched "The Death Knell Tolls" which is certainly the most pop oriented track here but in all the best ways, and not unlike the best from WOVEN HAND. Its main themes are most catchy but balanced with more reflective vocal and instrumental diversions. "Wayward Confessor" is haunting and awash in mellotron, like OPETH or RIVERSIDE at their most introspective. "Solomon's Song" is even more downbeat but just as lovely, and more reminiscent of STEELEYE SPAN or FAIRPORT CONVENTION when the male lead sings.

I wish I could accord this at times brilliant pagan folk album a higher rating, but its lack of consistency and its rather static instrumentals serve to derail any hope of stealing away deep within the rituals which the group appears to take so seriously. 2.5 stars rounded down due to insufficient editing.

Report this review (#1779700)
Posted Tuesday, September 5, 2017 | Review Permalink

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