Hexvessel: No Holier Temple

When Finnish folk gets doomy...

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If you can imagine a late 1960s folk-rock approach allied to a doomy atmosphere with added touches of lo-fi psychedelia, then you’re getting close to the timbre of Finland’s Hexvessel. There are clearly nods towards King Crimson, Black Sabbath, the Beatles, HP Lovecraft and The Doors, but what the band have managed to do is create something that belongs specifically to them.

For want of a better description, it’s the soundtrack to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, if the play were populated by mushroom-devouring pixies. At times, as on His Portal Tomb, it’s as if fauns are performing a dark ritual around a maypole in the dark depths of the forest, to heavy Sabbath-style riffs.

Contrast this with the more lilting pagan incantations of A Letter In Birch Bark, neatly complementing guitar chimes with organ stabs. Sacred Marriage takes off in a more obvious psychedelic direction, while Unseen Sun – nearly 14 minutes in length – has the droning texture of Sunn 0))) or Earth, with superb chanting and fluid, spaghetti western orchestral sounds.

Hexvessel have created their own world here, that’s both whimsical yet also biting. Not an easy album to access, but worth the effort.

Malcolm Dome

Malcolm Dome had an illustrious and celebrated career which stretched back to working for Record Mirror magazine in the late 70s and Metal Fury in the early 80s before joining Kerrang! at its launch in 1981. His first book, Encyclopedia Metallica, published in 1981, may have been the inspiration for the name of a certain band formed that same year. Dome is also credited with inventing the term "thrash metal" while writing about the Anthrax song Metal Thrashing Mad in 1984. With the launch of Classic Rock magazine in 1998 he became involved with that title, sister magazine Metal Hammer, and was a contributor to Prog magazine since its inception in 2009. He died in 2021