Hexvessel - Polar Veil (2023)


From the mind of Mat McNerney, aka Kvohst, Hexvessel has been a very unique and engaging band throughout their multiple stylistic changes. From the dark and eerie occult folk/doom/rock days of “Dawnbearer“ and “No Holier Temple”, to the more psychedelic rock edge of “When We Are Death”, “All Tree”, and “Kindred”. The band has always had a very mysterious and eerie core that now fully unravels alongside piercing Black Metal riffs and creepy atmospherics. With only a handful of bands being able to drastically transition into (or from) Black Metal, “Polar Veil” showcases a very powerful aural experience that shows the band morphing into yet another version of themselves and unleashing one of the best releases of 2023.

Opening with “The Tundra is Awake”, we get vicious and raw Black Metal riffs, for a moment you will be taken aback as this is not where the band seemed to be going on their last release. However, after McNerney’s signature vocals come into the mix, that whole ‘Hexvessel vibe’ is immediately felt as it brilliantly blends together. This release is heavy and yet quite atmospheric, as pieces like “Older Than The Gods” seem to be pulling one way with the guitars and yet the lush vocal arrangements pull a different way, creating a very intoxicating and yet perplexingly harmonious sound.

Things continue into murky and moody territories with the excellent and playful “Listen to the River”, and the chilling “A Cabin in Montana”. This last track is heavy and quite ravaging, featuring crafty tempo changes and chilling atmospherics. As the music progresses, in many places we think that some signature Kvohst harsh screams will come, however, this is beyond the point of the band’s music and style. Hexvessel’s style here is a natural evolution of their influences and environment, and yet they don’t have to be somebody else or conform to the ‘traditional Black Metal’ rules to deliver the uneasiness and sinister sounds of the genre.

Closing the release with the darkness of “Crepuscular Creatures”, “Ring”, and the intensity of “Homeward Polar Spirit”, we are left quite impressed on how Black Metal elements are infused into the band’s Occult Rock/Metal, allowing them to sound completely different and yet maintain their unique core elements. “Polar Veil” is definitely one hell of a unique release that might take a while for BM fans to digest, but regular Hexvessel fans will find the eerie atmospherics and lush vocal melodies that they are used to. However, this time they come packaged with more aggressive guitar work than before.

Band: Hexvessel Album: Polar Veil

Label: Svart Records

Release: September 22nd, 2023

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Genre: Occult Rock / Black Metal

Country: Finland

Rating: 98/100

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