Posted by Nick Skog on Friday, November 1, 2013 Under: Album Reviews
Published: October 30, 2013
Vin De Mia Trix have been around for a while: since 2007, in fact. After a couple of turbulent years, their line-up stabilised in 2009 and the Ukrainian band followed on from that with a self-released demo, an EP on Satanarsa Records and, finally, this debut full-length - three years in the making. Its announcement as a joint release, through the increasingly-Doom-rostered Hypnotic Dirge Records and renowned stalwart Solitude Productions, demonstrated a substantial level of confidence and interest.
Much like the album itself, were I to go in search of a strapline to hang it on. The bold and intriguing, yin-yang-like motif of the cover photograph is a good match for the some of the bold and intriguing ideas developed within. A recent site interview with the band goes into much more detail about the creative processes behind it all, reinforcing the obvious impression from listening to the release: that this is an intelligent, articulate and carefully-considered piece of work.
The core of 'Once Hidden From Sight' is a regal and atmospheric Death/Doom sound, that borrows and incorporates elements from all sorts of other genres (such as cues from Prog- and Post-Rock and Black Metal) without ever straying far enough in any particular direction to challenge the overarching label. Except - and it is a pretty big exception - in the way the album is completely segmented into three pairs of Death/Doom tracks with instrumentals between them. Typically, Metal bands of all sorts have diversified into those 'look, we can really play proper instruments' moments, almost invariably lasting 1 minute 6 seconds and titled 'Something-ludium' (for additional muso credibility). Avoiding this particular cliche, Vin De Mia Trix have headed off at a complete tangent - the two instrumental tracks ('Là Où Le Rêve...' and 'La Persistència...') are both full-length compositions, primarily consisting of solo piano, that wouldn't be out of place on a modern classical record. You don't get much bolder than that, as a contrasting texture. To be honest, I'm still in two minds about it - whilst I applaud the determination to do so, and even appreciate the works themselves, the juxtaposition in album terms seems a little too arbitrary and extreme for my personal taste.
Fortunately, there's plenty of the more expected Doom-work to listen to, and appreciate. It's largely paced at mid-tempo; guitar-led, with a dynamic variety that shifts from acoustic fretwork to squalling lead to archetypal heavy riffing. Pleasingly, the bass is quite unfettered and often free to roam in distinct lines of its own, while the drums have a depth beyond simply keeping the pace and adding some verve with fills and flourishes. Both clean and harsh vocals are used, and worthy of compliment for their power and range. Taken all in all, it's a complex and synergistic compositional mix that marks Vin De Mia Trix as having their own definite identity - the guitar sound may sometimes be reminiscent of My Dying Bride, and the spoken vocals of Saturnus, but neither would be enough to call any kind of a comparison. The production comes across as adequate, but a little on the claustrophobic side to really bring out all of the musical complexities. And while we're on minor criticisms: the last of those would be the crackling introduction (and middle) of 'Silent World', which I initially thought might have been corrupted in mastering, but have since concluded it's one of those deliberate 'authentic-damaged-vinyl' effects. I genuinely don't understand what that's meant to add - scratched records were annoying enough, back when you had to put up with them, never mind now when you don't!
Anyway, leaving aside the small niggles, you're left with a solid and intelligent take on modern Death/Doom: one that isn't afraid to experiment a little, or to drag in stylistic cues from across associated musical borders, and has had time to mature and develop. (The latter is amply demonstrated by the hugely-improved reworking of 'The Sleep Of Reason', from the earlier EP). It may not redefine the genre, but it does present a creditably, confidently individual take on it, and a suitable foundation to build further on. For standout tracks, check out the punchy closing duo of 'Metamorphosis' and 'मातृ (mātṛ)', but the rest aren't far short, even if - like me - you probably won't be listening to the instrumentals terribly often. Net mark: recommended.
Reviewed by: Mike Liassides
In : Album Reviews
Tags: vin de mia trix once hidden from sight death-doom funeral doom experimental post-rock kauan melodic blackened blues