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Hexvessel - When We Are Death CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

3.29 | 12 ratings

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3 stars If "No Holier temple" in 2012 represented a wholly successful refinement of the group's "forest folk" style, "When We Are Death" shows the HEXVESSEL of 2016 surrendering to electric abandon, with a more urban, at times danceable aspect to most of the tracks. The quality of the compositions; the instrumental performances and arrangements, many using organ and lively percussion; and lyrical substance remain as impeccable as ever. From the album title one might surmise that the band remains focused on oneness with nature, and that inference would be largely correct. They have just changed costumes and uncovered a few a/c outlets with which they are availing themselves with abandon.

Luckily HEXVESSEL has included a sprinkling of tracks that scratch the same itch as did "No Holier Temple". The best of these is the dignified "Cosmic Truth", with a refreshingly simple verse and refrain that I could hear or chant for hours, and plan to when I'm retired or telecommuting full time. "Mirror Boy" is almost as breathtaking, like one of the more mystical songs from Britain's OYSTERBAND. "Green Gold" channels JOY DIVISION via MOODY BLUES, with a sweepingly grand melody and clever turns of phrase. My version has "Hunter's Prayer" as closer, driven by a surprisingly vivacious beat and succinct lead guitar riffs, returning us to earth center.

The remaining material ranges from substance assisted pure psychedelia ("Drugged up on the Universe" and "Mushroom Spirit Doors") which does little for me, to much more interesting organ driven 1960s meets 1980s rock with a touch of blues ("Transparent Eyeball", with shades of STRANGLERS and DOORS; "Earth over Us"; and, the best of these, "Teeth of the Mountain"). It's about as distinctive as a basic rock style can get, and is certainly recommended for those who enjoy those readily accessible pleasures.

"When we are Death" is a paradoxically lively release for HEXVESSEL and, as well executed as it is, it lacks the adventurousness and unabashedly prog attitude of "No Holier Temple". A band I hope to hear more from while I am alive.

kenethlevine | 3/5 |


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