Veldes - Skyward (EP) (2014)

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We've seen these distorted, nearly impossible to read band logos before. While they aren't isolated solely to black metal, it is just another one of the stigmas associated with the bleakest of metal. But, while the picture may be worth a thousand words, the music it represents is worth far more. Slovenian one piece Veldes is a band so much larger than the sum of its part; Tilen Šimon is an architect of the bleak and hazy. But hidden behind what you think you know, or at least what you assumed the band from Bled would sound like, is a rewarding experience. The tenets are all present; the blasting drums, chaotic and often messy guitars. But they are not alone, nor are they what you'll remember when all is said and done. Skyward is an EP that speaks volumes about its creator, and the future he has in store for us.

With the opening piano, Šimon throws you an unexpected curve ball, contrary to the tangled vine of a logo. Skyward is everything you didn't know you wanted from the EP; keys, subtle string work, and a mood setter to open what proves to be a far more intricate concept. Tied together at the seams with Woe Eater, the connection from one track to the next is undeniable. Here, the name of the game is pace and contrast. On that vibrant canvas of strings and keys comes a splatter of distortion and screeches that would overwhelm a lesser composition. But somehow, it is the lightly strummed strings that cut the mix like a knife, even through an explosion of drums and cymbals. Rather than a one dimensional roll of double kicks and screams, the constant changes in tempo enrich each section, highlighting what's done right within each stanza. You'll find an interesting dynamic starting just after the six minute mark, where harsh vocals meet a lighter, sublime instrumental. The combination works, and ignites the next chorus of distorted riffs.

By now, you're mind should be open to what Šimon IS doing, rather than what you'd expected thus far. His use of background synths at the start of Of Rain And Moss does wonders for its impact. By the time his vocals start raining down on you like rain turned to fire, you've already been drawn in. It's a perfect storm of smooth and rough, coming to life with each down beat. If there is a weakness to be found in this track, it is the lack of changes over the course of nine or more minutes. With the bar set so high so early on, you are left with one main riff and melody here which, while intoxicating for stretches, lacks lateral movement. It comes full circle on Gone, tickled by a delicate use of keys once again. There is a sense of loss here, imagined or real, that helps to tie you in emotionally. It's short and sweet, in so many ways.

The adage of not judging a book by its cover has never been more true than when dealing with black metal bands from around the world. Behind the jagged, tangled branches and twigs of their logos and namesakes, there are often deeper, far richer musicians trying to make a mark on the genres most misunderstood subsect. We should know this by now; it isn't all corpse paint, tin can recordings, murder and devil worship. Veldes, channeled through the mind of Šimon, is a project that is worth more than the ink used to print the artwork. You'll find an emotional investment is made in the music, one than you will gladly return with each and every time you press play. It isn't revolutionary, nor should you want it to be. Instead, Skyward harnesses the melodic side of the darkness, and lets it see the light for the first time in a while.

8/10

Bandcamp - http://veldes.bandcamp.com/

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/VeldesBand