Hexvessel – When We Are Death


Haunting, folky, heavy, strangely wonderful and wonderfully strange…

Century Media / Secret Trees

Release date: 29 January 2016

Review by Jason Guest

An album that embodied the sea, the skies and the lands between, 2012’s No Holier Temple was and remains captivating. Its trippy atmosphere and esoteric ambience made for an impressive record (reviewed here) and a fine follow-up to their 2011 debut, Dawnbearer. 2013 was the last we had heard from Hexvessel, their Iron Marsh EP (reviewed here) a melancholic, magical and mysterious complimentary piece to No Holier Temple. 2016 and Mat McNerney and co. are returned with their captivatingly-entitled new album, When We Are Death.

Where No Holier Temple leant more towards the forest end of the psychedelic spectrum, When We Are Death leans more towards the spiritual. The two are not mutually exclusive of course, they are two branches of the same tree, from the same root, and so McNerney and his cohorts again take us on an exquisite voyage through a lyrical and musical mindscape that is as chilling as it is captivating. Kaleidoscopic in sound and profound and meditative in subject matter, the psychedelic and the divine abounds in all their exploratory and exhilarating splendour.

Given its subject matter, it’d be easy to paint it black but Hexvessel are adept musicians and know how to employ their extensive musical skills to produce a colourful album. Rich throughout, each track has its own character, its own sound and yet each is comfortably part of the greater whole. And while each track stands tall by itself, the attention to detail within each track is extraordinary. While the piano intro to ‘Cosmic Truth’ bears a sweet vulnerability, ‘Drugged Up On The Universe’ is majestic in its vast deep-space-atmospherics with the reverb on McNerney’s vocals shimmering beautifully against the Manzarek-esque keys. The electric piano of ‘Teeth Of The Mountain’ moves delicately between the track’s gentle blues, and the tumbling, hypnotic drums of album bookends ‘Transparent Eyeball’ and ‘Hunter’s Prayer’ are captivating, this latter in particular conjuring up the vast landscapes of the titular character.

Organic, honest and mysterious, When We Are Death is an album to return to time and again. Haunting, folky, heavy, strangely wonderful and wonderfully strange, this is another marvellous piece of work from a collection of musicians long walking their own unique path toward musical and spiritual unity. Exceptional.

Hexvessel – When We Are Death8.5 out of 10

Track Listing:

  1. Transparent Eyeball
  2. Earth Over Us
  3. Cosmic Truth
  4. When I’m Dead
  5. Mirror Boy
  6. Drugged Up On The Universe
  7. Teeth Of The Mountain
  8. Green Gold
  9. Mushroom Spirit Doors
  10. Hunter’s Prayer
  11. Last Lovers In Hell (bonus track)