Winter is coming and Hexvessel provides you with the most fitting soundtrack for the months to come. Their ”Polar Veil” will settle over the scenery of your mind. Experiences of solitude and foreboding doom as also impressions of nature´s sublime will accompany you on a journey through deep snow, harsh winds and a starlit sky to the cabin in the woods. Embrace freedom, darkness and the call of the wild! You may find spiritual transcendence or at the very least an absolutely captivating record!
This sixth full-length of the band from Finland (formed circa 2009), is a much colder and more blackened version of their former incarnations. It is a different shade of the Ritual Folk Psychedelia and Doom Rock for which they have become known. A departure from anything hippiesque and tree hugging. Something much more primal and archaic, something that has always been hiding at the core of Hexvessel´s DNA, but is now being brought to the forefront by the ghosts of bandleader and singer Mat ”Khvost” McNerney´s past (Code, Dodheimsgard). The spirits of Black Metal have risen. A free spiritual journey at its bare zenith. Come and join!
Already with the first song you are irrevocably drawn into the spell of this album and its journey. “The Tundra Is Awake” greets you with blackened tremolo guitars that suck you straightaway into the freezing cold of the imaginary world this sound evokes. But instead of taking the lead and blasting your senses into oblivion, they function more as a excellent contrast and backdrop to the fabulous crooning of McNerney. He has such a recognizable and evocative voice, that somehow suits perfectly to Black Metal, Post-Punk and Folk alike. Haunting and full of longing. He is the shaman, this journey´s guide and we follow him with heavy steps through a deeply snow-covered environment, being conveyed by the waltz-like sway of the song. On top of that the melodic nuances of the second guitar, as also the 70´s Prog-style keys in the chorus, let your inner eye see a night sky full of stars above you ”while the world is sleeping”.
Under a starlit sky like this you automatically start to ponder about your own existence, also in relation to the vastness of space, which spreads out before you, “Older Than The Gods”. Soundwise this is accompanied with the same effective contrast like in the first song (freezing cold guitar sound and clean crooning), but now with added epic male background vocals (Okoi from Bølzer) and lush, haunting keys to further enhance the grandness of this scenery. But “Listen To The River” before its too late, as you´re still in the cold and you start to freeze. As with everything, there are at least two sides of the coin. What is awe-inspiring, can be deadly, too. Blackened is the beginning, haunting are the keys from Ben Chisholm (Chelsea Wolfe). A foreboding atmosphere, a dreadful ambience. You ought to find some kind of shelter soon, as the song slowly sways towards its end. And as the cold creeps in and you start to lose your consciousness, you see afar the lights of a cabin in the woods…
From here on the record makes a slight shift. We have still the folk and doom elements in the sound, but the overall feel is more cold, black und unhinged. The night has reached its darkest peak. And the spiritual journey is at a crossroad. With “A Cabin In Montana” the pace picks up and “Crepuscular Creatures” incorporates discordant guitar chords, there is uncertainty in the air and a search for direction, a connection to something bigger than us. But in-between we find the “Eternal Meadow”, where acoustic guitars, a guitar solo and the soaring vocals of McNerney lead the song to a high point of the whole record.
And through the doom and gloom procession of the Black Sabbath-y “Ring”, with a guitar solo feature of Nameless Void (Negative Plane), we finally find a connection to nature surrounding us, the Polar Spirit, leading us back to our spiritual home in a sublime mood (“Homeward Polar Spirit”).
With ”Polar Veil” Hexvessel realign their sound to something that hits you differently at your core. They turned the coin and show us, what has been there all the time. A different way to connect to their artistic vision, a different way to find nature´s sublime. There is no light without darkness. Just let winter come, Hexvessel will lead you through. Embrace the Polar Spirit.