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If you're relatively familiar with black metal, you know that the Polish bands of old always approached it in their own unique way with a sound quite unlike that of their contemporaries to the west. Veles is no different, and their first full-length effort on No Colours; Night on the Bare Mountain is a sterling example of early Polish NSBM done right.
The most obvious comparison I can make is to early Graveland, which is not surprising considering Robert “Darken” Fudali’s status as the only other permanent member in Veles besides leader Blasphemous. He handles keyboard duties and has contributed intros and outros to every Veles release. All of the Polish black metal eccentricities are to be found here: sloppy but adequate drumming, bizarre “jangling” guitar tones, thick keyboard melodies, and rasped vocals that again serve to remind one of Graveland. The end result is a loose-sounding but menacing and ancient atmosphere that no other scene has ever been able to equal in this reviewer’s opinion.
Highlights include “Majesty of War”; with it’s typically twisted Polish riffery and excellent vocals, and my favorite track of the lot; “Born of Darkness”. The song begins with a collection of bizarre acoustic meanderings that at first seem random and disconnected, but slowly shape into a massively evil melody before all hell breaks loose and the rest of the instruments kick in, finally dissolving back into discord. Amazing.
That’s not to infer that Night on the Bare Mountain is flawless, however. It’s fairly short for an LP at only 34 minutes, and the musicianship is at times sloppy to point of being distracting. Still, you could do far worse, as this is an honest, occasionally breathtaking album that substantially differs from Veles’ later work. Recommended if you can find it!