Chapter I: “The Poisoned Chalice”
01. “Pale Dawn Rising”
02. “Seeds Of Blasphemy”
04. “The Poisoned Chalice”
Chapter II: “Born into Grey Domains”
05. “The Great Deception”
06. “Carving A Labyrinth Of Despair”
I’ve been guilty of rendering excessive praise to derivative bands in the past, but in my defense it’s because there are days when the metal scene seems to offer nothing but core crap and retro throwbacks. At least the bands who are trying recapture the magic of classic extreme metal acts from Bathory to Incantation are riffing off something I can relate to, and that can make me over-estimate them for a while. But if I’m honest, generic metal is just generic metal and has little repeat value, as can be seen by the pile of OSDM-worshipping CDs that I own but rarely replay. What really makes my day is finding a band that adds something new and valid to the metal mix, or does old things in an original way. The Vein, a fascinating new side-project from members of the epic doom act Altar Of Oblivion, does both.
Their sound draws on the more lugubrious elements of second wave black metal, a certain trace of early death metal and it also parlays epic riffs and melodies into a sound that’s much more extreme and raw than its parent band’s. The starkest difference lies in the growled vocals of course, but that’s not all. These songs don’t stop at evoking a single texture or style; without being willfully eclectic, they combine elements of slow yet pummeling black/death with long-breathed melodies, massive, elegiac riff structures and wistful interludes. This is questing, creative extreme metal music for the listener with the time and discernment to apprehend originality. Those looking for another posse of troglodytes storming long-crumbled ramparts in bullet belts, denim vests and all the other metal necrophilia fetish gear can apply elsewhere, but so can the trend-hoppers looking for some facile and ultimately inane mash-up.
Stream songs from the album below:
From the grinding slow-death of ‘Seeds of Blasphemy’ to the masterful passages in ‘The Poisoned Chalice’ that combine dolorous keys and a very classic metal riff with death metal vocals, The Vein effortlessly merges disparate elements into a sound that is as captivating and bleak as the quote from the latter-day SF classic film, ‘Sunshine’, which opens the album. This is a well-named album, conveying a sense of devastation and emptiness in a time and place beyond the last failed human hope. The music has variety, space and drama. The only shortcoming I find is that individual songs don’t always come across as sufficiently distinctive entities in themselves, although they all contain great passages and add immensely to the cumulative impact of the album. All in all, this is a compelling, distinctive debut and I hope that this project doesn’t turn out to be a one-off.