Transplanted Brit Mat “Captain Kvohst” McNerney and his merry band of Finns, Hexvessel continue to carve out the releases with their Iron Marsh EP. This companion piece to 2012’s No Holier Temple actually stands quite well on its own. In fact, this EP is my first exposure to their psychedelic doom/folk and I couldn’t be happier to have stumbled upon them. The spirit of discovery needs a spark, right?
Iron Marsh covers over 30 minutes on five tracks and every one of them is soaked in atmosphere and warmth. Feeding off a late ‘60s/early ‘70s vibe, Hexvessel wrap the listener within the folds of a universe serving the natural world with reverence. Their fuzzed-out tones and sensuous rhythms pay eloquent homage to the old school while their superb production brings their sound to the current environment.
Opener ‘Mask Of The Universe’ combines all the varied elements of the band over its 13 minutes. Multi-instrumentalist Kimmo Helen is on full display with organs, violins and trumpets filling the sonic palette of the rest of the band (Kvohst – vocals/guitar, Niini Ross – bass, Simo Kuosmanen – lead guitar, Marja Konttinen – backing vocals/percussion and drummer Jukka Raneman). Bringing so much together could lead to a sense of chaos but Hexvessel manage their collective beautifully. While Kvohst might have started the process, this is definitely a band effort. The smooth and comforting EP continues with ‘Superstitious Currents’ and ‘Tunnel At The End Of The Light (Redux)’, a longer version of the track from Dawnbearer, before hitting the first of two tracks featuring some (very) special guests to close out the album.
‘Woman Of Salem’ is an Yoko Ono cover featuring Purson’s Rosalie Cunningham on guest vocals. Cunningham and Kvohst complement each other nicely and confirms all the good things that have been said about her voice. It’s a stirring rendition and vastly different than the original while maintaining much of the same melodies. Closing track ‘Don’t Break The Curse’ sees Hexvessel joined by Alia O’Brien of Blood Ceremony on flute. The flute sounds entirely natural here as it would on the entire EP. Hexvessel’s melodic style and clean vocals mesh perfectly with aura given off by an instrument such as the flute.
Iron Marsh is a wonderful EP. Delicate melodies, clean vocals and an occult feeling, if not occult leaning, style makes Hexvessel and intriguing and enchanting band. Psychedelic and sensuous, doomy and groovy, the EP rolls by gently and easily yet leaves a lasting impression.