Hexvessel “Dawnbringer” (2011)

This album has been my subtle companion for a while now, caressing and soothing my soul at every spare hour. Submerged by its trembling, refulgent notes and honey-coated vocals, I knew I would have needed my time before I felt ready for a review: the right moment would have come along naturally. And so it has, on an uncharacteristically rainy day when the sea shores are battered by south-easterly winds and the foamy pale green-gray waves crush against the blackened rocks. Watching the sea storm from my water-stained window, a timid fire crackling behind me, my senses become enveloped in the quiet, familiar melancholy that months on end of blazing sun had kept subdued. “Dawnbearer” begins to spiral inside the room with the thick, evocative fragrance of real Church incense…

Peculiarly, the songs flow so magnificently with their hypnotizing, probing, moving qualities, that I never quite felt the need to know them by their exact name before today. I enjoyed the implicit sensation of intimacy and completeness that this spellbinding work evokes, absorbing the lyrics as they ebbed and flowed. I cannot remember when an entire album was able to stir up within me the powerful yearning for the mind-blowing beauty and freedom which comes from a profound communion with the ancient rites, but it must have been a long while ago. “Dawnbearer” did so with the same poetic fashion transubstantiated wine fires up ecstasy by slowly trickling down the throat all warm, then bursting into the veins like a silent scream. If the first listen can easily inebriate, repeated ones will eventually lead the sensitive, spiritually predisposed psyche to the very place where it all come from in the first place. Music is the Universal Lover, no matter which philosophical inclination one approaches it with – Heathen, Satanist, Buddhist, atheist – its primordial notes sing to each and every soul just the same.

Mathew “Kvohst” McNerney feels he has been chosen by the universal powers, as the very name of this project testifies with transparent intent: high priest of the occult, poet and bard, you just know it is not about empty theatricals. His stunningly beautiful and eclectic first solo work is honestly and romantically drenched in the kind of magick that cannot but inform the entire life of both man and artist, and for this reason alone it is destined to awaken many a dormant spirit, luring them towards the self-discovery path, thus fulfilling its undertaking.

The first track, the catchy “Invocation Summoning”, could not have been better chosen as a shock-introduction into a universe where not only is there no metal in sight, but the chosen trail into folk experimentation is not the typically trodden one by the black metal congregation. Alongside his own British Catholic heritage and the Satanic Norwegian influence, Kvohst courageously grabs fistfuls of the darkest expressions in traditional music worldwide. So not too surprisingly we find the Argentinean tango of “A Cabalist Under the Gallows” nailing the highly dramatic, mysterious atmosphere he is after: there is no other sound like that of the bandoneon, possibly the most sinister, sexually charged and unruly instrument one could find (quite curiously originating from Germany), making history in the ‘70s through Astor Piazzolla and his revolutionary jazz/rock mixed tango.

There is so much to appreciate throughout this generous art-piece: bandoneon aside, we find violin, flute, harp, acoustic guitars, banjo, mandolin, upright bass, mellotron, harmonium and an array of percussions weaving magical melodies with and for the beautiful, richly balanced voice of Kvohst. Speaking of which, after becoming a fan of his superb singing for Code, it is now an absolute pleasure to indulge in the different modulations of the gentle madrigal-style he had sparsely used before; and his duet with Carl-Michael Eide’s familiar baritone in “The Tunnel at the End of the Light” is nothing short of magical. Even the cover of Paul Simon’s “Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes” (the original features a traditional South African chorus, I have just discovered) becomes a sparkling dark jewel, fitting within the mood of the album to perfection.

The 15 beautifully crafted compositions convey more than mere joy to the ear and the soul: as he takes us by the hand through his tormented, spellbinding, cathartic spiritual experiences, Kvohst reveals his intimate devotion with the vibrational fortitude of someone who has found a new dimension in his life, an emotion that resonates beyond his art, truly making ripples. Once the album gets into the blood of the listener, it will start unraveling recollections from the subconscious which could have remained buried forever, might those belong to distant, breathtaking childhood moments such as the first time one saw the sea, the uneasy eeriness of the dark stone church one visited on Sundays, the first time one felt the stirring yearning of sexuality – or to later magical instants, such the sudden perception of one’s glowing self-awareness while taking a lonely walk through the still, dew-scented countryside.

I cannot guarantee miracles, but if you let Kvohst’s seducing spell work through you, “Dawnbearer” will bring an intense transcendental moment into your life too.

-Mystery Flame


Release:  February 2011
Label:  Svart Records
Avantgenre:  Psych-esoteric Folk
Duration:  54:28
Origin:  England-Norway-Finland
Official site:  http://www.myspace.com/hexvessel
Review online since:  14.03.2011 / 17:51:22


01 – Invocation Summoning
02 – Heart Of The Mind World
03 – Scarlet Cassocks
04 – The Death Knell Tolls
05 – A Cabalist Under The Gallows
06 – I Am The Ritual
07 – Radiant Transcendent
08 – Wayward Confessor
09 – Diamonds
10 – A Stranger’s Grave
11 – Conversations With Rosa
12 – The Tunnel At The End Of The Light (Feat. Czral)
13 – Solomon’s Song
14 – Wychwood Shrine
15 – Oracle Of The Starlit Dawn 4:42

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