The relationship between Metal, heavy music and other genres has always been an intriguing and often intertwining one, where artists seem to fall under our umbrella without sharing obvious similar qualities. Case in point is that of Hexvessel, who despite an ever-changing output and a folky base to their sound, have intrinsic links to their native Black Metal scene that has hardly ever even encroached into the territory of distorted guitars.
Where No Holier Temple was a psychedelic, Norwegian Folk opus, their previous effort When We Are Death drew upon a more sixties Psychedelic Rock inspiration. In an esoteric fashion. which perhaps should have been expected, on newest effort All Tree (Secret Trees/Century Media/Prophecy Productions), the band does a virtual 180.
All Tree follows a natural and spiritual narrative, invoking a greater feel of early folklore and the powerful imagery and meaning of trees. In mirroring this, All Tree feels more stripped back and pure throughout and is more discernibly a Folk record, with nary a sign of additional aspects.
First full song ‘Son Of The Sky’ contrasts the most to the main style to the rest of the album, and thus feels like an odd starting point in a way; with a more upbeat pace and tone and a harder edge which feels reminiscent of Folk-tinged Progressive Rock, such as Jethro Tull. Get past this, however, and the remainder almost entirely sheds any notion of Hard Rock music, and it is in this where the album is strongest.
The title track follows, feeling like the proper starting point for the album, comprised of clean, gentle guitar sweeps and chant like choral vocals, and what sounds like the presence of spirits in its background. ‘Ancient Astronaut’ ramps up in density which still sits aptly, whilst album highlight ‘A Sylvan Sign’ strongly invokes the forest landscape so well and feels perfect for evenings around a large campfire and the release, ambience, and beauty of the outdoors.
Hexvessel has rarely rested on their laurels, and don’t get the credit for the changes in their sound that they have mustered over their time, but on All Tree, with its more stripped-back nature and subtle sense of dynamics, feels like their most defining and characterized album to date. It also feels like their most emotive and wholesome record, offering a greater sense of warmth than ever before. A band that hasn’t always been for everyone, All Tree feels like an album that could connect with more people than any of their previous efforts to date.
7 / 10