THIS WEEK I’M LISTENING TO...HEXVESSEL Polar Veil (Svart Records)
Long-term fans will know that Hexvessel’s modus operandi is to never be caught standing in the same place, musically – founder member and British expat Mat McNerney is on record as describing the band as “a musical odyssey with no boundaries” – and their sixth album once again offers up a different facet to the Finnish outfit’s evocative output.
‘Polar Veil’ is as intriguing – and as difficult to pigeonhole – as the band themselves. Heavy black metal riffing and thunderous drumming back intricately crafted songs, and the addition of guitarist McNerney’s clean yet melancholic vocals gives the album a rather unique twist. But it all gels beautifully. The likes of ‘Older Than The Gods’ and ‘A Cabin In Montana’ (the two longest cuts on the album) are prime examples of the band’s ability in terms of both composition and execution, and for pure bombast ‘Eternal Meadow’ is hard to top.
Guest appearances from Chelsea Wolfe (keyboards and strings on ‘Listen To the River’), guitarist Nameless Void from Negative Plane (the solo on ‘Ring’) and Okoi (the Bølzer vocalist adding some weight to the aforementioned ‘Older Than The Gods’) all contribute to the album’s chilling and ethereal atmospherics, although left to their own devices McNerney and his bandmates Kimmo Helén, Ville Hakonen and Jukka Rämänen are equally adept at conjuring magic from the blackest of nights. It’s not an album to take you on a journey as such, but, hell, just enjoy the ride...
‘A Cabin In Montana’ - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H8sXwJ_fFDY&t=9s
‘Older Than The Gods’ - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5yiuPOD9vXY
© John Tucker September 2023