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Once in every long while there will come a very special black metal album, an instant classic, an album so powerful in its atmosphere and creativity that it can make the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end at the sheer thought of it. In a music scene where stagnation is praised, the cryptic and hypnotic ecofacists, Velvet Cacoon, unleash their masterpiece, the long awaited Genevieve, upon us. This is Velvet Cacoons first publicly available album, and with much hope, will not be their last.
Upon the first listen, the most notable part of the music is the guitar sound, a very muddy sound, much like that of some of Xasthur’s work, but still retains its own identity. The way this sound is achieved, however, is something mind bending. They use this contraption, called a diesel harp, which is a steel bodied guitar where the pickups run on diesel fuel flames, the sound is then transmitted through fiber-optic cables into a 70 gallon aquarium filled with ocean water, wine and blood. Such a method as this is what gives the guitar that distinct muffled and muddy sound. Within the sounds of the diesel harp is a brilliant layering job, putting such sounds as organs, synthesizers, string instruments and other indefinable sounds. When these two things are combined it creates the most hypnotic and desolate sound I have ever heard. It is truly something which words can not do justice, you must hear it for yourself.
The vocals are also something very special. Everything which is deemed cliché, as far as black metal goes vocally, is thrown right out the window. Chilling whispers, disgusting gurgles which sound as if the vocalist is vomiting and low, echoing rasps plague this albums tracks. Unlike in most black metal, the vocals are rather quiet, more like another one of the countless instruments which are drowned in the background by the dieselharp. Personally, I enjoy this approach with the vocals, it adds so much to the unsettling and hypnotic atmosphere, which I think louder and more consistent vocals would ruin.
The drum machine work is also fairly interesting, but not as much so as the other aspects. Like in most black metal, the drums are just treated as a means to keep the music grounded. However, the bass drum is more prominent than the snare and a little bit artificial sounding. I do not see this as a problem though, I have heard someone describe the bass drum as almost like a heartbeat which keeps pumping the music, which I think is a perfect description.
Velvet Cacoon are a very special and strange band. Even if they choose to distance themselves from black metal, this is a band which knows the true spirit of the genre. Innovative, artistic, cryptic, and desolate are the first few words which come to mind when thinking of this album. In short, consider this album a “must” for any fan of black metal or anything that is not really considered normal.