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HEXVESSEL

Prog Folk • Finland


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Hexvessel biography
Hexvessel is a Finnish group led by English immigrant Mat "Kvohst" McNerney. They play Gothic style of psychedelic folk rock, with wide ranging influences including early PINK FLOYD, HAWKWIND, AMON DUUL II, and VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR, among many others. A pagan, nature centered vibe is discerned even through the occasionally metallic threads, and instrumentation is as varied as that implies. Recommended for fans of COMUS, ESPERS, CHANGES, PROMETHEAN or WOVENHAND.

Hexvessel official website

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HEXVESSEL Videos (YouTube and more)


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Buy HEXVESSEL Music


Iron MarshIron Marsh
EP · Import
Svart Records 2013
Audio CD$13.17
$13.60 (used)
When We Are DeathWhen We Are Death
Century Media 2016
Vinyl$19.46
$26.08 (used)
When We Are DeathWhen We Are Death
Import
Imports 2016
Vinyl$40.02
Iron Marsh by HexvesselIron Marsh by Hexvessel
Svart Records
Audio CD$36.59
No Holier Temple By Hexvessel (2012-09-10)No Holier Temple By Hexvessel (2012-09-10)
Svart Records
Audio CD$59.82
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HEXVESSEL discography


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HEXVESSEL top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.40 | 13 ratings
Dawnbearer
2011
3.95 | 15 ratings
No Holier Temple
2012
3.24 | 10 ratings
When We Are Death
2016

HEXVESSEL Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

HEXVESSEL Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

HEXVESSEL Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

HEXVESSEL Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

2.58 | 7 ratings
Iron Marsh
2013
4.05 | 2 ratings
Earth over Us
2015

HEXVESSEL Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Iron Marsh by HEXVESSEL album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2013
2.58 | 7 ratings

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Iron Marsh
Hexvessel Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

2 stars This rather generous EP followed on the heels of HEXVESSEL's best album, "No Holier Temple", and bears similarities in structure to that album, with a blend of protracted epics and briefer pieces. It begins with, I suppose, it's raison-d'etre, the 13 minute "Mask of the Universe", which is denser than the longer pieces on the prior album, obsessing over droning guitar figures and repetitive incanted lyrics that break occasionally to reveal underlying themes of interest. It puts me in mind of some early FRANCO BATTIATO for some reason, that is to say, it would have been regarded as experimental 40 years ago. Today...I'm not quite sure what to make of it, only to say that I enjoy parts and am lukewarm on others.

For the rest, "Superstitious Currents" and "Woman of Salem" are both highlights, the first a stark ballad sung in a suitably stunned voice and tackling the occult, the second a cover of a YOKO ONO song made HEXVESSEL's own. It's one of the most accessible tracks they have done, which means it's still a challenge, but in a generally propitious manner, with Marja Konttinen's vocals equal to the grim task of recounting the 1692 witch trials. "The Tunnel at the End of the Light" proves that you can pluck out a mediocre old chestnut, dress it up with guitars and drums, and churn out a mediocre redux quite handily. The closing number "Don't Break the Curse" is lazily dependent on spoken word, which is a shame as it's quite compelling when it ultimately transforms itself into a song, too little too late.

Since "Iron Marsh" at best consolidates the gains made by "No Holier Temple", and since its keynote piece doesn't quite deliver what's implicitly promised in the playbill, I'm going to round down from 2.5 stars for this mildly anemic showing.

 Earth over Us by HEXVESSEL album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2015
4.05 | 2 ratings

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Earth over Us
Hexvessel Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

4 stars Released prior to their 3rd album "When we are Death", "Earth over Us" introduces one of the punchier tracks from that album, one that diverges from the more laid back doom-laden style forged over the prior full length releases. In fact, the EP "Iron Marsh" from a few years before had already done this to an extent. Perhaps the main reason for this single release, and the only reason for you to procure it, lies in the magnificent B-side "Gaia", a remake of a song by Swedish metal group TIAMAT on the occasion of its 20th anniversary. I dug up the original, and, particularly when combined with the official video with grainy black and white footage of a dire planetscape, the version by HEXVESSEL might be of greater interest to the prog rock community, more so since TIAMAT hasn't made it onto these pages.

The long intro (almost 2 minutes) is dominated by heavy droning rhythm guitar and percussion, with an expectant mood that is ultimately rewarded. When McEnerny's voice materializes, he delivers a long languid ode to Mother Earth and her ultimate power over us. The choruses provide a more harmonic, if not a lyrical, break from the despair, and are where the keyboard washes can be best heard. The instrumental breaks include distorted lead guitar runs and brass, before the coda brings it all to a somewhat abrupt end, perhaps intending to mirror our own collective (imminent?) demise.

 When We Are Death by HEXVESSEL album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.24 | 10 ratings

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When We Are Death
Hexvessel Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

3 stars If "No Holier temple" in 2012 represented a wholly successful refinement of the group's "forest folk" style, "When We Are Death" shows the HEXVESSEL of 2016 surrendering to electric abandon, with a more urban, at times danceable aspect to most of the tracks. The quality of the compositions; the instrumental performances and arrangements, many using organ and lively percussion; and lyrical substance remain as impeccable as ever. From the album title one might surmise that the band remains focused on oneness with nature, and that inference would be largely correct. They have just changed costumes and uncovered a few a/c outlets with which they are availing themselves with abandon.

Luckily HEXVESSEL has included a sprinkling of tracks that scratch the same itch as did "No Holier Temple". The best of these is the dignified "Cosmic Truth", with a refreshingly simple verse and refrain that I could hear or chant for hours, and plan to when I'm retired or telecommuting full time. "Mirror Boy" is almost as breathtaking, like one of the more mystical songs from Britain's OYSTERBAND. "Green Gold" channels JOY DIVISION via MOODY BLUES, with a sweepingly grand melody and clever turns of phrase. My version has "Hunter's Prayer" as closer, driven by a surprisingly vivacious beat and succinct lead guitar riffs, returning us to earth center.

The remaining material ranges from substance assisted pure psychedelia ("Drugged up on the Universe" and "Mushroom Spirit Doors") which does little for me, to much more interesting organ driven 1960s meets 1980s rock with a touch of blues ("Transparent Eyeball", with shades of STRANGLERS and DOORS; "Earth over Us"; and, the best of these, "Teeth of the Mountain"). It's about as distinctive as a basic rock style can get, and is certainly recommended for those who enjoy those readily accessible pleasures.

"When we are Death" is a paradoxically lively release for HEXVESSEL and, as well executed as it is, it lacks the adventurousness and unabashedly prog attitude of "No Holier Temple". A band I hope to hear more from while I am alive.

 No Holier Temple by HEXVESSEL album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.95 | 15 ratings

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No Holier Temple
Hexvessel Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

4 stars "No Holier Temple" represents a major step forward for Matt McNerney's HEXVESSEL relative to their debut. The spoken sections are much terser, and the songs are more varied, from brooding pop to heavy rock to adventurous prog epics, all delivered with the synergy of shared ritual, and an underlying folk sensibility. The band clearly having gelled markedly in just a couple of years.

While recollections of DAVID SYLVIAN during his MARK ISHAM collaborations ("Woods to Conjure") , DEAD CAN DANCE medieval balladry ("Letter in Birch Bark"), BLACK SABBATH doom meets ZOMBIES harmonics ("His Portal Tomb"), CURRENT 93 vigilance ("Are You Coniferous"), and the mysticism of a heavily sedated COMUS ("Sacred Marriage", perhaps the standout track here) will gratify many, the band synergy is its main calling card, expressed through the haunting compositions and arrangements that not only set the mood but dwell within it. Even the TENHI-like "Unseen Sun" at protracted 13 minutes, at least confirms that the group won't abandon its hallowed and cherished melancholy for an instant.

"Neo folk" music has a somewhat earned reputation of being quite the opposite of warm and fuzzy, but as much as it can, "No Holier Temple", opens the circle to accommodate those who pray for transformative modern prog folk. Highly recommended.

 Dawnbearer by HEXVESSEL album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.40 | 13 ratings

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Dawnbearer
Hexvessel Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator 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.

 Dawnbearer by HEXVESSEL album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.40 | 13 ratings

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Dawnbearer
Hexvessel Prog Folk

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

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.

 No Holier Temple by HEXVESSEL album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.95 | 15 ratings

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No Holier Temple
Hexvessel Prog Folk

Review by ataraxis

4 stars Hexvessel doesn't seem to well known at all here! Very surprising. Anyway, this is a very interesting album. Very interesting blend of folk, psychedelic and prog. At times it reminds me of Comus (not as dark and 'furious' though). The most fascinating thing about this album to me is the atmosphere it creates. Yes it can remind you of a few 70's bands but the album feels very fresh to me overall. The manner in which the exotic instruments (flute, mandolin, harp, clarinet, violin etc.) are used in pure genius. Not overdone. They're used in short bursts (very similar to the way these instruments are used in Comus's First Utterance). Another plus point is the weird eerie sounding chords and the way those dark, eerie moments seamlessly flow into epic beautiful moments! Feels very natural. I don't want to describe the album anymore. No track by track review. I've just given a feel of what to expect from this album. Cheers!
 Dawnbearer by HEXVESSEL album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.40 | 13 ratings

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Dawnbearer
Hexvessel Prog Folk

Review by paulermauler02

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.
 Iron Marsh by HEXVESSEL album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2013
2.58 | 7 ratings

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Iron Marsh
Hexvessel Prog Folk

Review by Second Life Syndrome
Prog Reviewer

3 stars *I originally wrote this for powerofmetal.dk*

Hexvessel. The name implies much, and I have to admit that they deliver pretty much what I expected. This Finnish band plays what they call "psychedelic neo-folk" or "psychedelic forest folk". Either way, it is meant to be straight-up weird. This certainly is the case.

Yet, I cannot help but like their new EP, "Iron Marsh". As a companion piece to their latest album, "No Holier Temple", it definitely has a sort of addicting quality to it. I'll be honest: I heard it once, and I disliked it. I heard it twice, and I was somewhat impressed. I heard it again, and I was singing along with the choruses. "Iron Marsh" has a way of doing this to you. As a fairly short EP, "Iron Marsh" just works. The creepy atmospheres are combined with jingles and jangles, tribal beats, and melancholy soundscapes. Sure, they break into a 70s- style rock beat sometimes, but this band usually stays in their own little world. The vox are quite good, and feature both male and female vocalists. I must say, though, that I prefer the female vocalist that is prevalent throughout the last half of the EP. Either way, they both have good voices and harmonize beautifully.

Hexvessel is really weird. Their lyrical content is downright depressing and creepy, but the music grows on you and gets a kind of nostalgic quality to it. I think my favorite song is "Women of Salem", and I'll let you guess what the topic is. Weird lyrics aside, this band is definitely enjoyable. Strange. .

Thanks to kenethlevine for the artist addition.

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