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Ueldes > Skyward > Reviews
Ueldes - Skyward

A disappointing successor. - 55%

ConorFynes, September 29th, 2014

At the beginning of the year, I had the pleasure of listening to Veldes' sauntering debut, To Drown in Bleeding Hope. The prospect of another one-man atmospheric black metal band with songs about nature and solipsism isn't bound to excite anyone at first glance; even so, Veldes seemed to stick above the sea of mediocrity, thanks in large part to multi-instrumentalist Tilen Šimon's talent with composition. While Skyward offers a similarly bleak and bleary experience to its predecessor, it's with some disappointment I find myself largely underwhelmed by Veldes' second offering. While it's often the lot of EPs to supplement an artist's primary work in some way, it's discouraging that Skyward has scarcely attempted to improve on the formula on To Drown in Bleeding Hope. Rather, we have a half hour of music that is too innocuous to be anything but atmospheric, and too leisurely to be entirely engaging. It is not a failure so much as it is a discouraging dip into the middling brand of quality bands of this ilk are prone to putting out. Considering what Tilen Šimon has proven himself capable of in the past, I was frankly expecting something more.

With atmosphere-based music of any manner, a composer must skirt the boundary between ambiance and engagement; music with too few changes in its formula will run the risk of losing a listener's attention. Likewise, music with too many dynamic shifts will lack the pleasant hypnotism artists in atmospheric black metal often strive for. Tilen Šimon navigated that balance with skill on To Drown in Bleeding Hope. Although his style often marched on with the leisure and loom of funeral doom, I felt continuously engaged by the music. With a greater shift towards repetition-oriented pacing and longer tracks on Skyward, the music has lost some of its effect. The two centrepieces run close to the ten minute mark. This general increase in length has resulted in steadier builds or more nuanced compositions, but rather a stretching and repetition of ideas. Held in tandem with the already-sluggish pace of the music, this drawn out approach has not worked as well for Veldes.

Evidence of Skyward's less successful direction is evident from the start, before we even reach the main course. "Skyward" (the opening track) offers a palette of innocuous programmed instruments not unlike many black metal 'album intro' tracks. The difference in this case is that it plods on for six minutes. Throughout listening, there's an unspoken expectation for the metal to kick off and get things going. There's no such luck on the first track, and while "Woe Eater" brings forth the traditional blend of treble-worshipping guitars and raspy snarls, it doesn't do much to encourage more excitement. On Skyward and the debut alike, I get the sense that Veldes is predominantly interested in the merits of atmosphere- the so-called metal elements are a means to an end. Some of my favourite moments on To Drown in Bleeding Hope were among the most ambient passages the album had to offer. Both in the way the way they are composed and executed, the pair of ambient tracks (including the album's denouement "Gone") aren't particularly interesting.

Fortunately, Šimon's talent is much more apparent in "Woe Eater" and "Of Rain and Moss". Although they both feel somewhat overextended (each evolves as a series of variations on a theme) the sound is well-balanced and timed. "Woe Eater" is a particularly solid affair, perpetually in the midst of renovating its single melodic idea in the hopes of keeping it engaging. Most often, this fight for interest translates into a familiar back-and-forth between quasi-doom plodding and fast tempos, complete with blastbeats. Especially in the way Veldes depends upon the eerily programmed symphonics to lead the main idea, comparisons with Russia's Windbruch wouldn't be out of place. With regards to production, Veldes' comfortable blend of clarity and murk serves the project well, though it's worthy to mention Šimon's vocals feel mixed higher than should have seemed necessary.

In truth, Skyward isn't wholly weak or unworthy. Of course, following every promising debut, there is a certain expectation that begs for the next step to be bolder, more ambitious and (in some cases) more beautiful than that which preceded it. An EP though it may be, I approached the album with some hopes it would rival (or, in best case, surpass) the thoughtful work I'd heard on To Drown in Bleeding Hope. In this case, my initial impression was one of disengaged, mild enjoyment, and subsequent listens have not changed the stance at all. With that said, it is not so much a misstep that it compromises my anticipation for Veldes' work in the future.

Originally written for HEATHEN HARVEST PERIODICAL

A very moving, emotional EP with moments of drama - 70%

NausikaDalazBlindaz, September 9th, 2014

From Bled, a tiny mountain town in northwestern Slovenia, comes the moody depressive solo BM act Veldes which at this time of review has just two releases to its name. I've been hearing "Skyward" a few days now and I'm impressed with how Veldes main man Tilen Simon has approached making this recording, even though parts of it don't always communicate fully what he tries to say. From start to finish, I can hear there's a very clear over-riding concept and a narrative combining nature, change and a range of emotions running from regret through anger and wistfulness to resignation running through the EP. There is singing that makes the message clearer but the music by itself conveys emotion and mood well. Simon has an ear for melodies and riffs that are at once beautiful and distinctive, and which carry drama and feeling well.

The opening and closing tracks are all-acoustic pieces in which strings (viola, cello) provide the general backdrop to raindrop piano tones and what appears to be a tinkly celeste (a keyboard instrument similar to piano) comes in as icing on the cake. "Skyward" (the track) creates the general mood in which the listener is to receive the EP's message. When the EP proper begins, it comes in as smoothly as it can manage, given that the music aspires to epic grandeur and sharp aggression. And majestic and aggressive Veldes certainly can be: the bass is deep and the guitars are steely in tone with slight distortion. The celeste motif from the opening title piece continues over into "Woe Eater" while black metal guitars slash away in support. While this track is good, it does suffer a little in sound: the (synth-generated) drums are too feather-light for the style of music Veldes aims to create and need to be more powerful and thunderous; and the vocal needs to be more varied in its delivery - a greater emotional range is needed and the odd scream would be welcome. The acoustic keyboards could also be a little sharper and less smooth in tone to bring out the melancholy.

"Of Rain and Moss" borrows inspiration from black metal and doom metal and the drum-beats suggest a bit of death metal influence. The track can be repetitive but the atmosphere is more important: it carries a strong sense of tragedy as well as grandeur. The best part comes past the halfway mark when the rhythm section leaves off and listeners are treated to doomy riffs resounding over and over with piano accompaniment. The guitar tone is stern and forbidding with just the slightest bit of distortion in parts. A deep sense of sadness, perhaps regret at what has gone and can never return or be reclaimed, is present.

The recording does succeed in establishing an inner world in which humanity's loss of contact with the natural world and a sense of how enormous that loss is, constitute the EP's message. It does falter a bit in its second half when it starts to rely on repetition to drive its message home and for a few moments I did think the music was losing focus and direction. The fact that the percussion is not as strong as it could be, resulting in music that's not very energetic and powerful, could have something to do with the recording sagging in the most important track "Of Rain and Moss". Taken as a whole though, "Skyward" (the whole EP) is a very emotionally moving effort even with all its imperfections.

Veldes - Skyward - 100%

TempleofDarknessReviews, August 30th, 2014
Written based on this version: 2014, CD, Razed Soul Productions (Limited edition)

Back in 2012, Tilen Simon started Veldes, not knowing what sort of impact he was going to have on people with the music he will create. After a year of writing and recording, their first full length album entitled To Drown In Bleeding Hope was released (which my review of will be up in a bit.) This sparked peoples interest and grew the band's fan base quickly. Now, after riding out the successful release of their debut full length for a year, Veldes is back with more! Skyward was released in 2014 and features a little over 26 minutes of absolutely beautiful melodies and astounding soundscapes. Consisting of only 4 songs, two being instrumental only, Skyward is a majestic piece of art that incorporates joy, sorrow, hate, and love all into one and portrays those emotions extremely well through the music.

While listening to this release, I noticed myself almost in a trance while listening. It is extremely calming and meditative music while at the same time remaining rooted within the black metal veins. I have found that while working on something frustrating or after a long day at work, Skyward is the best thing to have playing in the background because it keeps you cool and collective instead of getting your blood pumping. I attribute these feelings to the chord progressions used on almost all songs, especially the intro track. I have listened to thousands of albums and with that, thousands of intro's and this one is by far my favorite. It has a melancholic vibe with the downward chord structure and the way the piano melody intertwines with the guitar. It is a gorgeous representation of how well these types of intro's fit within metal music. When the black metal kicks in, it still keeps the piano at the forefront for most of the time and that adds so much to the music.

The drums are there, but are not overpowering in any way. If anything, I would have liked to hear them a bit higher in the mix to hear everything a little bit better. The guitars, both electric and acoustic, are played with expertise and skill. The riffs were well thought out and well written. No detail was overlooked when it came to interweaving melodies with the guitars and piano because they sound perfect together. The vocals are not present too often compared to the instrumental sections. If any of you have read some of my other reviews, you know that I like when bands do that. While the vocals are important, music like this can really come forward and tell a story or paint a picture for the listener without using lyrics to do the talking. When the vocals are present, there is always something interesting going on with the band in the background, it is never dubbed down so the vocals can have the spotlight but is never too present to the point where the vocals don't matter, giving it a perfect balance.

T.S. is an extremely talented guy and being able to put all of this together by himself is a feat on its own, but executing it as beautifully as he did is extraordinary. While not everyone will find this as entertaining of a release due to the slower tempos and emphasis on melody, this is exactly what I look for in music because of the emotions it arouses. Needless to say, this has to be one of my favorite albums I've ever reviewed!

Salving wounds with wounds - 73%

autothrall, August 1st, 2014
Written based on this version: 2014, CD, Razed Soul Productions (Limited edition)

One thing I kept thinking back to as I was exploring this new Veldes EP was how Tilen Šimon (aka Isvaroth) has such a flair for cautious material held at a steady pace to provide patient emotional impact, only rarely fielding the explosions of frost tinted, blinding speed we associate with a lot of traditional black metal. Whether or not that makes Skyward partially folk metal, or black/doom I really don't need to delve into, but the result is that the music takes on this almost cinematic, sentimental form that I often equate with veteran composers like Hans Zimmer on some of his more recent material (Inception, etc) where the slow pianos hit those exact right notes, only here they are complementary to the powerful, catchy and simplistic chord patterns and driving double-kick drums...it's quite overwhelming when coupled with the hideous black metal snarls that Tilen will often sustain over entire note phrases.

Two of the four tracks here, the first ("Skyward" itself) and last ("Gone") are purely instrumental pieces using the keys which most closely manifest the principle I mentioned earlier, and both are gorgeous of their own accord, but the 9 minute "Woe Eater" also holds consistently to this theme with the pianos lightly caressing the burgeoning, melodic chords. This is also the song where he lets us know that we're not entirely in the safe zone by battering the life out of us with this concrete black metal blast sequence. "Of Rain and Moss", the other metallic track remains the slower, grandiose tempo and ties the harsher elements in with the instrumentals, though I found this was actually the most repetitive feeling tune among the four, though not at all bad if you like slower, sure footed melodies embroiled with angst and suffering. Bass lines are simple and generally tend towards the root notes of the rhythm guitar, but I can't imagine that by being busier or complex they would add much to the songs' unerring sense of sadness, like the fog slowly dissipating from the woodland scene in the cover picture.

I did find the vocal mix irksome, not because I don't enjoy Tilen's soul-baring rasps, which go sailing over the forested hillsides like blackbirds slowly plummeting from the heavens, but because there seemed to be a little too much of a buzz or distortion on the vocal track. Also I found myself wondering just how much more elegant these tunes might feel with soaring clean vocals, or a mixture of the two styles, but at least he's got one of those down pretty tight. Otherwise, I think this is slightly stronger material than last year's full-length To Drown in Bleeding Hope. The two instrumentals are beautiful, the way he weaves that style into the heavier material is also quite memorable. Riff progressions are mildly predictable, and he could probably construct melodies that come at you more from left field, but all in all, if you experience this EP in the proper climate, it conveys the sense of beautiful, maudlin desperation that Veldes no doubt set out to achieve, and those fond of slower, atmospheric black metal which doesn't shy away from piano sounds should find it appealing.

-autothrall
http://www.fromthedustreturned.com