Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Hexvessel: Dawnbearer (2011)


A handful of metal guys are doing dark, folk-inspired, mostly acoustic work. Man's Gin, Scott Kelly, Dax Riggs, and Wino have all done it. So far, most of it has been very good, probably because only extremely talented people have attempted it. But it seems that only Americans have been going in that direction, until now.

DawnbearerHexvessel is the side project of Kvohst, vocalist of a handful of black metal outfits mostly from the UK (but also including Dødheimsgard of Norway). In contrast to the Americans going in this direction, there isn't even hardly any rock in this. Instead of folk-rock, he's gone for straight-up folk, of the psychedelic variety popular in the 60's. The main instruments are acoustic guitar and violin, with the guitar chords sometimes shifting into weird dissonance to provide the psychedelia. But other instruments also make appearances (such as bagpipes and rarely used percussion, plus electric guitar on "The Tunnel at the End of the Light"). The vocals tend to be high-pitched, and all of them are clean.

Standout tracks like "Invocation Summoning" or "The Death Knell Tolls" have hooks that could have made them hits 50 years ago, and they just beg for you to sing along. But those are the exception. A handful of instrumentals, and many of the other songs, consist of trance-inducing, repeated riffs (it seems weird to call it a riff when it's all clean and acoustic). You might hear birds chirping in the background. "Solomon's Song", another highlight, makes me think of the music to Firefly.

If there were more of the hook-laden songs, this would have been a great album. As is, it's not my favorite album of this ilk, but it's very good for something different.

The Verdict: If you're into the whole dark folk thing, Hexvessel gives a very different take on it. If you're not into it, you'll probably want to pass it up. I give Dawnbearer 3.5 out of 5 stars.


  1. Based on the song in the video I'm intrigued. I think I'll have to go listen to more of it at some point.

  2. That's probably advisable, since, like I said, a couple of them are really catchy and the rest are kind of different.

    Love the new profile picture, by the way.

  3. I sorta like this. It has a dark, Doors-y vibe I like, but the Wino album is all I need for this type of stuff right now.