Velnias – RuneEater

velniasHaving seen Colorado’s Velnias in the past and enjoyed moments their debut full-length Sovereign Nocturnal due to the inspired building blocks that comprised that effort, this is a band who’s vision and obvious desire to grow hungrily emitted from their music. So admittedly, I went into RuneEater with lofty expectations, just knowing they would be a step closer to achieving that full realization of sound and musical growth that just wasn’t quite there yet on the debut. Surprisingly, RuneEater left me with more questions and confusion than I was anticipating.
RuneEater deals conceptually with mankind’s failure in light of the greatness surrounding him, so you’d think the presence of a huge atmosphere would permeate the air, but instead a very “live”, nearly demo quality guitar tone dominates the mix for more of a dingy basement/hidden away from the world vibe. This wouldn’t have been a problem, but the tone isn’t that welcoming and is loud enough in the mix to highlight riffs and moments that fall in and out of time. There are obvious mistakes, which many artists choose to leave in because they like an overall “take”, but they are frequent and it makes the recording session on display here sound rushed. The performance occasionally sounds like not everyone is on the same page, or the band are creating this music spontaneously in a free form black metal mixed with doom jam session. If that indeed was the case, then it makes this album a bit more impressive for the way in which it was created and captured, but it doesn’t change the fact that some of the tracks wander off on slower journeys that really aren’t that interesting, or just confusing due to the Velnias’ lack of writing with impact or dynamics. Jangly chords establish a groove as on “Reverend Flames of Antiquity” and “Iconoclast” only for awkward key changes to arise and throw the rhythm section offline. Actually, both of these songs in particular are a mess. Out of tune and time and completely strange. It becomes difficult to listen to initially as you try to find a strand of emotion to ride out on, but all the distractions make this process more frustrating than rewarding. After 3 focused listens to this album in it’s entirety, I became accustomed to the lo-fi drums/sound and began picking out musical phrases that where indeed the passion and fire I was looking for picked up and it was just the bands bizarre use of transitions that seem to jumble the flow of each track. Having said that, I am a bit more confident that RuneEater could appeal to the fanbase they have undoubtedly established, but it doesn’t hide the fact that Velnias still have a lot work to do in honing their songwriting skills and overall vision into something more cohesive than a huge collection of musical ideas and movements within a song that sometimes just don’t work together. The vocals remain a burnt out and consistent level of black metal screaming, though used sparingly, which do offer a pleasingly desperate/furious tension to enter this album to offset a guitar tone that is distorted, but in a way that makes the notes sound like they were played through a small/partially blown amp for that dirty surf guitar tone.
RuneEater is a tough album to come to grips with, and not so in a way I think the band was hoping for. It just feels like a departure from what looked like a promising beginning for a band that stylistically was giving a nod of appreciation to Agalloch creatively and the folks that want to sway within that woodsy aura. I will say, I’m far from won over with this album, but am damn curious to see how Velnias recovers and carries on from this point forward. -Marty
Pesanta Urfolk

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~ by martyworm on August 21, 2013.

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