I am a huge fan of black metal, death metal, and industrial metal. I am also a huge fan of genre bending and experimentation. I appreciate when artists take creative risks, and don’t go the safe route (as all too many are seemingly content to do these days). The flip-side to all of this then is that sometimes these experiments just don’t come together, and sometimes it isn’t for the artists lack of trying. Veilburner have really attempted to put together a diverse piece of work here, and that fact isn’t lost on me. I get it. However, the very disparate pieces of “The Obscene Rite” just never came together in a way that made it consistently enjoyable, albeit amidst bursts of really interesting ideas.
Veilburner’s sound is an eclectic mix of black, death, and industrial metal, at times conjuring Behemoth, like on “Eucharist of the Breathing Abyss” and even Ministry on “In the Revelations of Bloodstained Void”. Fast, sharp guitars riff away, while programmed (or heavily replaced) drums fire off at machine gun speeds. All the while a mixture of lo-fi keyboard sounds and varying shrieks, grunts, groans, and the occasional clean vocal strain over the maelstrom. At various points on the record I could make out classical guitar, theremin, and many a multilayered, designed soundscape amidst other sonic experimentation.
From the outset, the production lets down the proceedings. I understand the situational necessity (and sometimes stylistic choice) of self or low cost production, but the harsh, distant sounds on the record are at odds with the intense, epic, apocalyptic, and dense vibe I think the band is going for. The scope of sounds is ambitious, but the overly busy synthesized drums and fuzzy guitars fail to deliver the punch and power necessary to sell this vision of the apocalypse. That isn’t to say that a Scott Atkins or Andy Sneap production job would make this a completely different record, but cleaner and punchier production may have highlighted more of the elements the band obviously put a lot of thought and effort into.
Settling into the rhythm of the record, I realized quickly that I was going to be at odds with some of the vocal choices being made. The vocalist’s guttural and black metal screams are completely serviceable, but at many junctures the band go for a raspy, direct, shouted approach that brings to mind later Nile material, except here it doesn’t work as well and took me out of the songs more than a few times. This exemplifies another issue with the record, and that is one of simply being too busy, to the songs detriment.
Nearly every song on the record breaks the 6 minute mark, but just about every song could have been nipped at least a little bit. Sometimes a song needs to be 8 minutes long to effectively convey some sense of purpose, but that really isn’t the case here. Long sections of spindly riffs fly by, but instead of building and releasing, the songs bludgeon until a sense of numb, noise is achieved. There is always so much going on, and in my opinion it is too much. Case in point here is “Vaterchen”, which overstays its welcome and feels disjointed and awkward in parts. The sections of the record that were focused and allowed to breath were my favorite overall, and scattered throughout the disc’s 9 tracks were some legitimately interesting ideas/riffs/sounds.
Although “The Obscene Rite” didn’t really work for me, there were some ideas that I bookmarked, and made me sit up and take notice. Interlude “Masquerade Macabre” introduces a really cool guitar solo/motif that dialed back the density a bit, and was an element I would have loved to have seen more of throughout the album. Similarly, “Dilemma Manifestation” and “In the Revelations of Bloodstained Void” form a late album duo of interesting riffs and songwriting choices that similarly made me notice after the grind of previous songs.
Ultimately, these moments of promise are a little too few and far between to support a consistently satisfying listen, and I came away feeling that Veilburner definitely has alot of potential to grow if they focus their attack and rein in some of the more extraneous elements present in their sound. Ambition in progressive music is a great thing, and we need more bands who are dedicated to experimenting and trying new things. Veilburner may just be one of those bands, and next time they might just hit that mark.
- Postmortem Exordium
- Necroquantum Plague Asylum
- Eucharist of the Breathing Abyss
- Masquerade Macabre
- Baphometic Catalyst
- Dilemma Manifestation
- In the Revelations of Bloodstained Void