Lesser-known black metal projects seem to be all the rage these days. From the occult sonics of underground Montreal titans Spectral Wound, to whatever other basement black metal project you can name, these things tend to be undiscussable by fans simply due to obscurity. Everyone’s got a handful of favourite hidden gem of theirs, and a new acquisition to my list is (The True) Veiled.
Hailing from Leipzig, Germany, (The True) Veiled are currently embarked on a venture to prove themselves within the competitive metal realm. As you can already tell, the competition for the band name (originally just Veiled) is fierce, as the group in question succumbed to their foes and tagged an extra identifier to their name. Furthermore, the black metal subgenre is ridden with creativity and thus presents a difficult hurdle for newer bands. While being good certainly helps one stand out against others, bands often find their niche through the adoption of various musical influences from around the map. Black metal is specifically known for this, with groups incorporating psychedelic, folk, noise, and even African-American church chants into their blends of the style. So how does (The True) Veiled stack up against these friendly foes?
In Blinding Presence is your traditional modern take on second-wave black metal. While primordial artists to the likes of Darkthrone and Burzum founded this chaotic low-fi blend of maniacal music, bands within the modern era who wouldn’t be easily placed within the “second-wave” category but aren’t defined enough to go into the aforementioned influence categories tend to be labelled as more generic, or simply modern-sounding. One way to stand out within this category is to produce good music, and luckily for (The True) Veiled, they’ve done just that.
I will shamefully admit that my experience with black metal is elementary at best. Its really the only metal subgenre where I haven’t explored past entry-level material, other than grindcore which I know I don’t enjoy, for the most part. I’ve been meaning to familiarize myself more within this realm, especially since the cold and dreary winter months are upon us, so January seems like a perfect time, and I’m starting with In Blinding Presence.
The album is really strong. Its most definable quality is the music’s incorporation of decipherable portions, which in turn create memorable moments. This sounds absurd at first glance; you must be muttering to yourself about how its music, and of course there should be decipherable portions which in turn create memorable moments.
Well, this is black metal we’re talking about, and the above isn’t always the case. This is mostly my excuse for not getting into the music style, as most outputs I’ve inquired seemed to consume me within an endless wave of two-note riffing and cymbal abuse. Darkthrone’s “Unholy Trinity” falls victim to this, at least to my ears, and I much prefer Panzerfaust due to its more broken-down attitude.
In Blinding Presence is very much not alike the aforementioned collection of outputs. It is also not simple, or dumbed down, and is in fact of contrary notion, as the record meanders along various complex but uniquely complementary chasms, which form solid tracks. I believe that the first song, “Triunity,” aptly exemplifies this description.
The track opens in similar fashion to a lot of other black metal songs. You’ve got an introductory melody which is expanded upon, with vocals and percussion structures tacked on as layers incrementally. The song develops in predictable fashion, and does nothing to particularly excite me for its first half or so; there are repeating melodies and vocal structures but these are nothing out of the ordinary. However, the song suddenly breaks down into a simple guitar riff, and all hell breaks loose with devilish screams and a new, slower, more somber melody. This melody repeats for the rest of the song (a good three minutes or so) and serves as a template for the rest of the musicians to build upon. The drumming progressively gets more interesting and the vocalist works his way through a few passages, all alongside this intense guitar riff. Its beautiful, really.
There’s another portion in “Saintly Isles” which uses a built-up momentum to unleash complete chaos over the listener, which ultimately culminates with a melodic guitar section. In similar fashion to the song discussed above, “Saintly Isles” expands upon itself, perhaps to the listener’s dismay, to a specific point where the vocalist’s traditional screams turn into tortured cries of agony, which are met by a second singer’s eruptions as well. From my point of view, this buildup and outcome speak true to what black metal traditionally has to offer, which is layered atmosphere met by visceral moments. Well done.
In Blinding Presence is almost too perfect of a record. One qualm I can muster lies behind the album’s safe nature. It definitely doesn’t gain any points for originality in the structuring department. We have “Glaring Brume” as a short opening atmospheric track, “Triunity” which follows as the standard black metal tune (in terms of structure and length – the song’s great but its what you’re expecting from the second track), then the typical longer closing track with “Bringer of Lambency.” The album missed an opportunity to shock the listener, or perhaps surprise them with some weird track inclusions, or just not something as safe as this one. The album cover also falls in line with this notion, as its pretty generic. Well, maybe not generic, but its just a safe bet with the black and white colour palate.
In turn, I will applaud (The True) Veiled for their ability to create a coherent linkage of works that manages to surpass feeling like a mere collection of songs. Aside from the “safe bet” album structure discussed above, the band does a number of things to solidify the work as a whole. My favourite of these incorporations lies within the recurring high-pitched melodies to be found by a guitar that is possibly out of tune on select tracks. In the concluding sections of the opening and closing songs, “Triunity” and “Bringer of Lambency” respectively, this high-pitched guitar can be heard playing behind whatever chaos is forming on the surface, be it shrieking vocals or low-fi distortion. I didn’t notice the inclusion during the opener at first, but upon second listen, the recurring melody struck me and helped tie the album together. Its the little things!
Ultimately, In Blinding Presence is a strong debut for our friends in (The True) Veiled. While the album structure may be a safe bet, the work succeeds on a multitude of levels. From the decipherable sections found throughout, to the conscious effort to inject recurring melodies over the span of multiple tracks, In Blinding Presence is a strong early release for 2019.