Hexenklad – Spirit of the Stone

Spread the metal:

Reviewed: October 2018
Released: 2017, CDN Records
Rating: 3/5
Reviewer: Rebekah Ann

 

This is the first offering from the Canadian band Hexenklad. Since the release of their album ‘Spirit of Stone’ in 2017 it has gained some amazing reviews and the band appear to have been gigging their way across Canada’s numerous Viking/Pagan festivals to support their debut. Hexenklad’s sound lies somewhere between Moonsorrow, Falkenbach, Finntroll, Insomnium, possibly Primordial, and with a whole selection of genre hints from death metal, doom to cheeky nu-metal vocals, synths and guitar tones, which is where my confusion lies… I suppose it adds to the layers, and being strict within a genre for the sake of it is somewhat unnecessary, but I think it also potentially muddies the atmosphere of the album. Maybe if they clarified their direction a bit more, I wouldn’t have sat with a screwed up expression trying to work it out every time I listened. I also have to say the production is as clear as a Sunday-at-a-festival piss; I spent a while listening to the album on different devices to see if I’d get a better sound, but nope. Maybe cleaner production would make the weak backing vocals sound better… or maybe not.

The band is made up of co-founder Michael Grund (SIG:AR:TYR and ex- Battlesoul) along side five permanent members, with several others lending their skills to create a messy sound that, whilst it confuses me slightly, I think I mostly like. Apart from the synths: if you’ve read anything I’ve written before, you may have noticed my detest for synthesized sounds and especially in anything masquerading under the folk banner! Saying that, the drumming is tight, the vocals are varied and strong, the guitar tones is generally Windir/ Dissection and there are some cool riffs and melodies floating around, I just struggle to put it all together.

The album starts as any good album should, with a strong, partly memorable track to launch you face first in it. ‘In this Life or the Next’ is pretty fast, pretty varied with has some nice lyric hooks, guitar solos and vocal styles, but is also pretty forgettable. ‘To Whom Veer Sinistral’ shows their folk roots, with a jolly gallop through some Tolkien forest. The next tracks, ‘At the End of Existence’ and ‘Returned’ are the highlights of the album as they’re simpler and don’t seem to be clutching at a thousand references. ‘At Dusk’ really shouldn’t have been allowed on the album, the vocals sound faint and weird, there seems to be no direction, it made me wince and skip it, so we’ll pretend that never happened. The following tracks, ‘In Waking Times’ and ‘Path to Ruin’, again, have some nice riffs and ideas, but far too much going on, no clarity, no conviction and a lack of direction.

I’d like to see a simpler Hexenklad emerge from this. When they play metal there’re some sparks, and as well when they play the folkier tracks like the closer ‘An Offering’. The fact that they sound like a frail Enslaved plus weakened versions of 20 other bands can’t really be ignored though, I’d like to see them develop their own sound which I do feel is in there, somewhere. Hopefully.

 


Video:

 


Tracklisting:

1. In this Life or the Next 04:44
2. To Whom Veer Sinistral 05:15
3. At the Ends of Existence 07:11
4. Returned 05:15
5. At Dusk 05:37
6. In Waking Tymes 04:31
7. Path to Ruin 05:35
8. An Offering 03:18

Band line-up:

Timothy Johnston (Vocals)
Michael Grund (Guitar)
John Chalmers (Guitar)
Clare B. (Keyboard)
John Kal (Bass)
Andrew C. (Drums)

Band Websites:

Facebook – Hexenklad
Website – Hexenklad bandcamp