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.