Review: Hexvessel - No Holier Temple (2012)

 Genre: psychedelic folk/rock
 Label: Svart Records
 Country: Finland 

My number 1 of 2012!

The band is the spiritual child of Mat “Kvohst” McNerney – who you may know of a few Dødheimsgard and code albums. On their first album (Dawnbearer) this band made psychic folk, which was a pretty mellow, very intimate, spiritual and strange effort. I really liked that one as well, but it’s a tough one to sell; McNerney’s voice is very speficic and people tend to love it or hate it, and the music itself is very specific as well.

Besides Mat, the band consists of members from Dark Buddha Rising among others. On this second album the process was much more a group effort, and also guided by their live gigs regarding intensity (i.e. rocking). Whereas the previous one was strongly metaphysical and about spirituality as derived from the self, this one is more grounded in nature, where the spirituality now emanates from (as there is no holier temple than nature). The music itself has shifted more towards psychic rock this time around and it is glorious!

It still is mostly quite mellow, but there is way more tension throughout, and sometimes the songs do erupt in epic rocking passages. Take for instance the monumental His Portal Tomb, which is threatening from beginning to end, sometimes lapsing to some peaceful fandango, sometimes lets go and has an immensely gripping and dissonant bridge towards the end.

Other songs are beautifully crafted pieces, with soaring melodies and really really fucking exquisite vocals (I want Kvohsts babies). Sacred Marriage is a good example of this, with its acoustic passages with some cool weird instrumentation, offset by electric passages with a really vintage fuzzy but still kinda thin quitar sound. Woods to Conjure knows the same threatening atmosphere of His Portal Tomb, but stays more on the laidback side like Sacred Marriage does. Here the trumpet work is absolutely phenomenal and the subtle crescendo in madness towards the end expertly executed.

Some stuff is just straight up weird, like Are You Coniferous? (yes, he is asking you if you are like a conifer). Fucking awesome song though, especially because this is the one time that Kvohst gives a pitch perfect Tom Waits-style performance.

This record captures the vibe of the 60's/70's psychedelic greats perfectly (the final song is a cover from that era) and manages to translate it to this time. In a way this reminds me of Imaad Wasif, who essentially does the same and also delives these strange psychedelic modern albums. So, despite the obvious influences it's a very original and unique work, maybe even approaching perfection.

Listen to this. Really really, listen to this. Go and put it on your portable music device and immerse yourself in the wild, or better yet, rent a cabin in the woods with a record player and all the stuff you need for a good trip...

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