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Hexvessel - Iron Marsh CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

2.63 | 8 ratings

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2 stars This rather generous EP followed on the heels of HEXVESSEL's best album, "No Holier Temple", and bears similarities in structure to that album, with a blend of protracted epics and briefer pieces. It begins with, I suppose, it's raison-d'etre, the 13 minute "Mask of the Universe", which is denser than the longer pieces on the prior album, obsessing over droning guitar figures and repetitive incanted lyrics that break occasionally to reveal underlying themes of interest. It puts me in mind of some early FRANCO BATTIATO for some reason, that is to say, it would have been regarded as experimental 40 years ago. Today...I'm not quite sure what to make of it, only to say that I enjoy parts and am lukewarm on others.

For the rest, "Superstitious Currents" and "Woman of Salem" are both highlights, the first a stark ballad sung in a suitably stunned voice and tackling the occult, the second a cover of a YOKO ONO song made HEXVESSEL's own. It's one of the most accessible tracks they have done, which means it's still a challenge, but in a generally propitious manner, with Marja Konttinen's vocals equal to the grim task of recounting the 1692 witch trials. "The Tunnel at the End of the Light" proves that you can pluck out a mediocre old chestnut, dress it up with guitars and drums, and churn out a mediocre redux quite handily. The closing number "Don't Break the Curse" is lazily dependent on spoken word, which is a shame as it's quite compelling when it ultimately transforms itself into a song, too little too late.

Since "Iron Marsh" at best consolidates the gains made by "No Holier Temple", and since its keynote piece doesn't quite deliver what's implicitly promised in the playbill, I'm going to round down from 2.5 stars for this mildly anemic showing.

kenethlevine | 2/5 |


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