Review Summary: So magical.. so mystical.. and damned
The British vocalist Mat McNerney moved to Norway years ago to gorge himself on the wild untamed nature and the heavy Scandinavian music scene. He later moved on to Finland, where he started the (not so heavy) psychedelic/folk band Hexvessel. Last year’s All Tree
was an ode to nature, yet with their new release Kindred
, Hexvessel have expanded their repertoire with an assembly of songs covering a lot more musical ground than its predecessor.
Even though I have certain issues with Kindred
(more on that later), I have to say that it is a collection of very interesting songs that are easy to get into. The melodies grab the attention and the songs are varied, from the slow brooding and dreamy Bog Bodies
to the slightly unhinging ‘but I have to sway my head to it’ Kindred Moon
. Every song is going for its own atmosphere and the band manages to convey all these different soundscapes very eloquently, without turning the whole thing into a scrambled collection of ideas. This is quite a feat, seeing as these are short songs and very to the point in their delivery. There are no needlessly winding passages of instrumental meandering slowly laying down an atmosphere. Instead, there is a directness in songwriting that delivers the goods straight in your face. They manage to keep cohesion mainly by having the delivery of every song be somewhere between being melancholy and being outright occult. This constant in vibe makes for a coherent album that varies enough in tone to forgive its variation in tempo.
With which we come to my main problem with Kindred
. The tempo is consistently low. This by itself is not a problem per se, where it not that the first song, Billion Year Old Being
, gives a completely false first impression on what to expect from the rest of the album. By far the most interesting and energetic song, it gives the impression that Kindred
is going in the direction of later era Opeth. It quickly becomes prevalent that this is not the case, with the next three songs going slower and slower. By the time Bog Bodies
comes around, we are in complete Twin Peaks mystery territory. From there it never really picks the tempo back up, which I can’t help but feel is a missed opportunity.
Yet from that point on Kindred
refuses to become boring by using a plethora of different instruments and moods. Leadsingle Phaedra
for example, takes a turn for the sinister, with the vocals going darker and more foreboding than before. It has an outlaw country vibe that, strangely, fits perfectly on this record. Even though it is too short for my liking and could have benefitted from a clearer theme to fall back on, it’s interesting and different enough to keep the attention. All of the songs on Kindred
have something like this to differentiate them from each other, making for an interesting if somewhat uneven listen.