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Hexvessel, an eight piece band from Finland, performs an interesting mixture of music commonly listed as Psychadelic Neofolk. They formed in 2009, and signed with Svart Records to issue Dawnbearer in 2011, then No Holier Temple in 2012, with the Vainolainen EP prior to it that same year. For 2013, they have put together a nearly thirty-four minute release that is being considered an EP instead of a full-length or a compiltion. Given some of the positive feedback on their previous efforts, Iron Marsh seems to be a rather promising, if not interesting release.

Right away, this EP lives up to that interesting factor. “Masks of the Universe” is a slower, almost droning performance with an organ and some violins filling up the background, while clean lead chords chime in with loud simplicity. While the aforementioned instruments do give it a strong Folk vibe, working well with the soothing music and singing, those higher volume notes end up giving it an odd astral touch that doesn’t quite fit the rest of the song other than the ending thanks to samples you might expect a radio to make in a black and white Science Fiction film. The mixture of psychadelic passages, pushed more by the organ than anything, with emotional Folk Rock is rather breathtaking when you reach it, and manages to stay fresh for the entire near thirteen-minute length, never repeating itself or incorporating filler. Infact, when the pace slows down more, the vast atmospheric emptiness is enhanced, making you wish they would continue to decease in speed to accentuate the passion even more. Sadly they don’t, but what is present makes for one of the few tracks that leave a long lasting positive impression on the listener.

“Woman of Salem” is a cover of the song Yoko Ono performed, and ends up with a very different atmosphere than the rest of the EP. This starts with a sound similar to a modern intrepetation of what one might expect to hear on a plantation in the south during the days of slavery, shifting to acoustic guitars with a funky distortion for the chorus. The slow, darker music reaches into Occult Rock terrain similar to The Devil’s Blood, and ending up much better than the original version, as well as the last song that really stands out. There’s also the “redux” of “The Tunnel at the End of the Light” from the band’s Dawnbearer album. The track length has been increased by more than a minute, and now reflects the passionate vast emptiness that this effort has. It’s a good rendition that also has a laid back vibe like “Woman of Salem,” making it a betyer choice for something to just relax to.

For the most part, Iron Marsh is an ecclectic mixture of early Psychadelic Rock with a passionate Folk Rock touch, and both styles compliment each other beautifully. Hexvessel do tread out of that world a few times, incorporating an astral tone to “Masks of the Universe” at times, while going straight Occult Rock with their cover of Yoko Ono‘s “Woman of Salem.” Either way, both are fantastic tracks, and actually the most impressive of the five. while not bad or boring, the others are good, but don’t make that strong an impact. Either way, Iron Marsh is a nice accompanying piece for any Hexvessel fan, but, with only two songs that really stand out, this one may sit on the backburner more than their other releases.

01. Masks of the Universe – 12:54
02. Superstitious Currents – 3:13
03. Tunnel at the End of the Light (Redux) – 5:36
04. Woman of Salem (Yoko Ono cover) – 5:03
05. Don’t Break the Curse – 7:08
Initial Pressing Score: 7.5/10

Hexvessel (band)

Digital review copy of this release provided by Svart Records.