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NIGHT ON THE BARE MOUNTAIN
Released: 1995, No Colours
Hidden Gem Review
At the request of some of our readers to review a bit more Black Metal, I dug through my vaults and dug out a quartet of debut albums by European Black Metal albums that were all recorded in 1995. They are Demonic (Norway), Desaster (Germany), Manic Butcher (Czech) and Veles (Poland). Enjoy.
VELES is really a one-man project of Blasphemous and a bunch of session dudes. The band has been plagued with line-up changes and their output inconsistent. The debut is typical Black Metal in terms of presentation, all black and white, a photo of Blasphemous in his civilian clothes, another blurry shot of a castle and a picture of rock. My assumption is that it was a ancient, sacrificial alter of sorts but to me, without historical context, it looks like a black and white picture of a rock. The cover is decent rendering of an evil ceremony with wolves in a forest under a full moon. The title is somewhat misleading as the intro of the same name is not the Mussorgkski tune made famous by Disney and made cool by Mekong Delta. For some reason I can’t put my finger on there is an element of mystery or obscurity to the self styled “Black Hateful Metal”
The nine song, 35 minute CD with lyrics and liner notes in Polish is probably the one that I know least about and consequently scares me the most. The disc opens with (can you guess?) yep, an atmospheric, haunting keyboard intro! The vocals are odd, not so much sung but spoken and enunciated quite clearly in a dry-throat croak. Strange, and an interesting distinction but lack the flowing power and screams we have come to expect in this genre. This is probably the slowest and most atmospheric of the four CD’s; with sudden solo acoustic interludes thrown in that on occasion throw off the pace. The mix is odd and uneven at times the drums are clear and in others buried way back in the mix. It is as if it was done with different producers or different studios or at different times. The guitars, I feel are too clean and subdued. They lack ferocious bite the tone being quite smooth. Quite a few keyboards are hidden in the background in these songs but will suddenly jump up and be in the forefront. I suppose that is the disadvantage of one man projects, the alternate input is lacking. This may be the most creative in terms of songwriting as well, I really enjoyed “The Final Battle” which was just sound effects, whispers, keyboards and acoustic guitar. To summarize Veles do everything very well except providing the critical element of ferocity and sonic hatred that is to critical in this genre. You can’t (or shouldn’t) call yourself “Black Hateful Metal” when in reality you ain’t that heavy. Dark, doomy, yes. Evil…no.
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