Hexvessel – Iron Marsh

Iron marsh coverThe release of Hexvessel’s No Holier Temple last year found me at just the right time. It’s wilderness obsessed cauldron brew of psychedelic rock and brit folk, with strange and viscous lumps of black and doom metal sometimes rising through the oily film of the surface, made an ideal soundtrack to my autumn nights in solitude among the copper country of Michigan’s upper peninsula. Half a year later with the sun ascending into summer heights and myself back in the over civilized south, a new efflux of magical and apocalyptic hymns has already been brought forth by the strange collective of musicians behind Hexvessel. Does Iron Marsh tap into the same mystical veins and secret forest springs that No Holier Temple lead us to with its strange and uncanny tunes? Well, no suspense necessary; it does. This hefty (over 30 minutes long in 5 songs, though one is a Yoko Ono cover and another is a new take on a song from Dawnbearer) EP is just as enchanting as the album it succeeds, while still managing to bring enough of its own personal magick to justify another, shorter trip into the psycho-sylvan realms of Hexvessel.

Iron Marsh is initiated with many of the familiar sounds of No Holier Temple brought into a new context; a droning riff that seems drawn from both the doom and folk revival traditions of the 70s, with sonorous horns and distant chants informing us that, “this is the end of the world.” This apocalyptic trance eventually dissolves into a seething swell of prog rock riffing, tenebrous violin dirges, and drumming that feels dazed as often as it does militaristic; before it finally climaxes into a cosmic metamorphosis of psyched out soloing, supernova synthesizers collapsing into black holes, haunting organs, the violin now sharp and cutting. And that’s only a little over half of the song. It’s tempting to go into such ludicrous detail for every song on this EP, not only because each is so good, but because Hexvessel, as they did on No Holier Temple, have made every moment on this album so distinct and varied. This isn’t done at any cost to the coherency of the album though, it all fits together marvelously well. Kvohst’s vocals are just as soulful and charming as they were on No Holier Temple, and the lyrics as poetic as I would expect from him, while the atmosphere of Iron Marsh carries the same power as well: some kaleidoscopic vision of a children’s folk tale wed to an apocalyptic and occult gnosis with the wilderness. There’s not much more to say: Iron Marsh is a great release. It does sound slightly over produced to me, but I would guess that it will sound just fine to those with more reasonable tastes. It follows the path of No Holier Temple closely enough that I would recommend picking up the full length first if you’re unfamiliar with Hexvessel, but if you already found yourself under it’s influence, then there’s almost no question that Iron Marsh will be one cosmic fire you’ll be glad to vaporize in. -Jake

Svart Records

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~ by jakemoran on May 22, 2013.

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