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Veil of Secrets - Dead Poetry Award winner

Veil of Secrets
Dead Poetry
by Justin "Witty City" Wittenmeier at 11 December 2020, 10:22 AM

VEIL OF SECRETS is a Gothic doom metal band from Norway.  It consists of two members, Vibeke Stene and Asgeir Mickelson. This is an album that I have been waiting years to hear!  In my burgeoning years of discovering deeper stuff in the metal world, TRISTANIA were one of the first bands involved in the Gothic/doom soon that I got into.  After STENE left, I was always hoping she would return to the scene.   And what a return it is!  But she isn’t alone, of course.  ASGEIR’s music goes way back for me as well. SPIRAL ARCITECHT’s lone full length album “A Skeptics Universe,” has always been a favorite and my first BORKNGAR album was “EMPIRICISM,” both albums featuring ASGEIR on drums.

So it is nostalgia that makes this such a grand album or is it honest to god just that great?  Repeated listens, dozens of them actually, tell me this album needs to be heard regardless of any history a person may have with the members who perform on it. Other than Vibke’s voice, of course, the element that sticks out to me the most are the guitars. The riffs are a potent combination of thick doom measures and Gothic oriented atmospheres.  There is often a fine line between both doom and Gothic music; in fact, sometimes they are interchangeable.  Asgeir nails the best approach to both styles and combines into a very seamless experience—and a smooth one at that.  Even at their heaviest, the riffs pull the listener to one end of the song to the other.  In essence, once they grab you they will never let go.

The guitar tone is PERFECT.  It is rich, heavy, not too loud or quiet…Asgeir understands exactly how a guitar should sound like in the Gothic doom style. Of course, the addition of violin works hand and hand with these guitars.  Sareeta (who has played on a BORKNAGAR album herself, among others) lends her considerable talents to “Dead Poetry.” I have always assumed it has to be difficult to use violin in a metal band as it seems like an instrument that wasn’t built for that at all.  But over the years countless metal bands have used this incredible instrument effectively.  Sareeta herself seems to have no issues at all adding her talents to doom metal.  Whether she is forging on her own path along the music or complimenting the guitars, her playing feels so natural and at home on this album. Another guest/session musician on “Dead Poetry,” is Erling Malm, who provides all the death growls.  His voice is pretty even keeled, deep but not overly and can be understood for the most part.  I think he put in a good performance, hearkening back to the older days of the genre and the use of the “Beauty and the best” vocal style.  The use of this style isn’t anything new but he works well enough with Vibeke.

The opening track, “The Last Attempt,” exemplifies everything that is good about this album. The melodic riffs are on point, as are the bass and drums—a real dense Gothic/doom sound.  Vibeke comes in shortly after the song begins—man, she still sounds so amazing.  Her vocals haven’t aged at all—her lithe and ethereal highs are still ghostly and her lower register vocals are magical.  The mid-section is where the song really shines, a marriage between the riffs and violin. “Sear The Fallen,” is a tragic yet beautiful song.  Those twin guitar melodies and violin hit the sweet spot for how to pull off that combination.  This song is slower than the opener and is a fine dirge of doom.  The riffs are catchy and even slightly groovy which is a welcome addition to this style.  The death growls roll right off the riffs’ edge and they provide the right contrast against Vibeke’s own croon.  The double bass is rather intense, reminding me of “World of Glass” era TRISTANIA.

Fey,” has more traditional sounding doom riffs—front and center with the focus on providing non- stop heaviness.  Vibeke’s vocals are insane on this track, trilling up to the highest highs while the riffs crush the song to pieces.  Her operatic voice hits the high mark just as the riffs return to the focus, matched by the double bass for a mid-section that rocks balls out. “Byrd,” is my favorite song on the album, easily.  It is immediate with the guitars and violin at the very beginning.  The violin stretches itself out on top of the heavy blanket of guitars, the song rolling out to sea and crashing into Vibeke head on as they meld together.  I love how the song suddenly changes gears and enters this raucous movement of bouncy riffs and blackened death vocals.  This is what this style is all about!  I cannot get enough of this song!

Entirety,” is my second favorite—a love a good closing song and this one knocks it way out of the park.  It is long, slow, and epic—what else do you want in a song that closes an already near perfect Gothic doom album?  Vibeke’s best performance is on this song, and that is saying something.  I love how the violins heighten the tension with a quick riff over the guitars during the mid-section. All in all, VEIL OF SECRETS’ “Dead Poetry,” is a stunning return to metal for Vibeke Stene and all involved parties did an incredible job and bring back that classic Gothic doom sound.  Highly recommended, especially if you miss bands TRISTANIA and THEATRE OF TRAGEDY.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. The Last Attempt
2. Sear the Fallen
3. Remorseful Heart
4. The Lie of Her Prosperity
5. Fey
6. Bryd
7. Meson
8. Entirety
Asgeir Mickelson – Guitars, Bass, Drums
Vibeke Stene – Vocals
Sareeta – Violin (Guest/Session)
Erling Malm – Harsh vocals (Guest/Session)
Record Label: Crime Records


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Edited 02 December 2022

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