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Nes-Black Metal for the win? Well, some might gain this impression while listening to the Spikes Through Eyes album by the Dutch band De Magia Veterum (DMV). Being the little brother, sister or pet dog of the more established band Gnaw Their Tongues (GTT), it still shows some similar characteristic elements, but the overall style and the concept is different. Those who are familiar with music from both bands will recognize this without much difficulties.
DMV is more straightforward and with a clear direction, the compositions have a structure and follow the basic pattern of the black metal genre. Nevertheless, the approach was enriched with additional electronic elements as well as samples; yet compared with GTT on a much smaller level. Furthermore, also in terms of the dynamics the music on this release is less complex and lacks the twists and turns of the other band. So, DMV is more limited in the execution than the other and more famous one.
DMV's art has a very synthetic sound and this is by no means limited to the drums; see again GTT. Also the guitars have a strange touch at times and those two aspects together add to the the music a strange vibe. Nes-BM … yes, it would be possible to use such a term. Sterile would be another one and the clinical way in which the music proceeds over the course of the album is a very ambiguous experience. Along with the harsh screams – similar to those on the GTT albums – the listener has to go through a variety of synthetic atmospheres; each of them unique in some respect and by no means commonplace. Mories, the person behind this project, seems to prefer fast and somehow aggressive music, which is disrupted by slower passages at times. A lot of tremolo-picking can be found, a lot of blast beats and some bass makes also an appearance in the back; the latter gives the music some neat vibe at times. The atmosphere is rather created by the vocals and the keyboards/samples than by anything else. As the guitars and the drums (drum-computer) tend to be some sort of texture, due to the high tempo, the other facets work as a counterpoint to the high-speed attacks. Moreover, the chaotic tendencies of GTT cannot be discovered here.
The music is very ambitious but ultimately fails due to the lack of some really fascinating motives and structures. With arrangements put together with mathematical precision, no warm sound and atmosphere is able to unfold itself. Barrage after barrage is launched but without a clear direction and with some thought on their impact. So, while the music has power and dynamics, they generally lead nowhere due to the strange sound and production. Even though the more structured approach, compared to GTT, is welcome, the here offered result is by no means convincing and as such boring and plain. Interesting for a spin or two but nothing more.
At first glance, De Magia Veterum may seem like a wall of noise. But hidden underneath this tidal wave of sound are deep, moving, complex melodies and rhythms. Sole creator 'M' manages to evoke a sense of chaotic frenzy for one to wallow in. A psychotic landscape where magma spurts from its ground as you try and escape its heat. This is the imagery Spikes Through Eyes presents to me.
The term 'avant-garde black metal' does not seem fitting of such a band. While many artists put under the so-called label may 'try' to be as different as possible, for De Magia Veterum it sounds completely natural. The music on this release is one of a natural progression of both black metal and music as a whole. The influences of sounds can range from noise to classical in one song. But always sounding right and never forced.
The production is perfectly suited for this type of music, it reminds me of a warm blanket of static. The vocals, while I hate to sound cliché, are hateful in their delivery, almost tribal. The riffs seep through your ears like piercings made into your genitalia. While painful as first, it has a certain pleasurable sensation. Knowing full well this will later benefit you. The ambient and piano sections help spread the chaos and give you time to rest from the slaughter. The music suffocates, drowns and pulls you down into a deep black hole. Where the only light comes from the waters surface which is just too far above you. At the same time, it is almost comforting, knowing that this will be your final resting place. Each instrument is played with proficiency, sutble moments of both beauty and technicality lay underneath only to be heard by those who give their full attention.
Not much more can be said for this demo. Its length is just about perfect. Not too short as to wanting more, and not too long as to get sick of it. Most songs are around 4 minutes long, which is just the right amount of time to experience them. Which is basicly what this is... an experience. I would not recommend listening to this if you have things to do for it is better to just sit and take it all in.
This is a well needed release in a genre slowly losing its originality. Spikes Through Eyes will make you question the reason of life. It will make you think just exactly why we are here, or if it does any good for us to go on. It is a journey into Hells fire, a flight through thunderclouds. A path in which only the most curious will likely tread.