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Hexenklad - Spirit of the Stone Award winner

Spirit of the Stone
by Clarissa "Wulf" Wright at 06 November 2017, 12:06 PM

HEXENKLAD began with the purpose of creating music with real depth and aggression; first formed by guitarist Michael Grund (SIG:AR:TYR, ex-BATTLESOUL) and drummer Sterling Dale. Grund took a seed of inspiration from his forest home of Bancroft, Ontario, channelling this natural inspiration through this folk-inspired black metal music.

The project branched off in 2015 when John Chalmers (PAGAN RITUAL) joined, offering his guitars to round off the music. Sterling Dale eventually left this project, and Timothy Voldamares Johnston (ECLIPSE ETERNAL) stepped in as the vocalist.  Various guests also entered – including Alex Snape with his bass, and Raphael Weinroth-Browne (THE VISIT, MUSK OX) as a guest cellist. Permanent members who remained were Clare B. (ECLIPSE ETERNAL, ex-OPERUS) on keyboards, Jon Kal (PAGAN RITUAL) on bass, and Andrew C. (PAGAN RITUAL) on drums. After some major shifts in the line-up, a range of talents assembled to release “Sprit of the Stone” in July this year.

The initial track “In this Life or the Next” is a bombastic introduction to the album, with its folky undertones, pulsating drums and guitars. Harsh vocals scream side by side with clean voices in the background. Woodwind melodies intertwine in “To Whom Veer Sinistral”, in a dark ballad that, in my mind, summons the pirate ships into the harbour. “At the Ends of Existence” makes a slashing impact, fuelled with powerful choruses where the vocals become increasingly ‘black metal’ in style. Melodies pace away in the rhythmic guitars, that back the occasional guitar solo. “Returned” begins with a calm piano melody which reminded me of SOLSTAFIR. That is, until rough vocal screams intruded the scene, and led forth the full band in heavy blasting. “In Waking Tymes” carries a string of death-metal style riffs that are tight and strong. These keep a rhythmic momentum crushing through the walls of this song.

“Path to Ruin” took me into an endless forest with its nostalgic guitar melody and softly spoken introduction. The pace gallops forth through tremolo guitars before they clear away for the acoustics, where cellos and cymbals draw in light that illuminates a colourful guitar solo. The final track “An offering” offers us with a melodious acoustic track. The guitars are crystal clear in sound, and are beautifully harmonious with the sustained strings, and hand drum in the background. This kind of track works well as an outro, though could also pass as an intro, as it doesn’t have a very conclusive feel. The recent release “Spirit of the Stone” presents an eclectic mix of sounds, ranging from death metal riffs, to blackened screams, and folk-y melodies. My mind wasn’t made up as to how to classify this music; whether it is particularly heavy folk metal, or if it is more like black metal with folk influences. To my ears, it falls very well in between these subgenres, which adds originality and memorability.

Songwriting: 8
Originality: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. In This Life or the Next
2. To Whom Veer Sinistral
3 At the Ends of Existence
4. Returned
5. At Dusk
6. In Waking Tymes
7. Path to Ruin
8. An Offering
Timothy Johnston - Vocals
Michael Grund - Guitar
John Chalmers - Guitar
Clare B - Keyboards
Jon Kal - Bass
Andrew C - Drums

Session/Guest Musicians:

Alex Snape - Bass
Sterling Dale - Drums
Raphael Weinroth-Browne - Cello
Record Label: CDN Records


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