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A Little Bloated - 70%

Arjunthebeast, July 12th, 2016

Ukraine’s progressive doom metal ensemble Vin De Mia Trix (whatever that means) offers up a ‘big, epic, cinemascope with cast of thousands’ type of recording with their full length debut “Once Hidden From Sight.” Extended running times, heavy lyrics and a general sense of gravity permeate the whole experience, and exhaustion of some kind is inevitable. Opening with the grandiosity of ‘A Study in Scarlet,’ and concluding with the…grandiosity of ‘मातृ’ (Hindi for ‘Mother’), there isn’t a moment where the experience doesn’t reach for great heights. What adds to the scope of the album is the genre straddling at work here; there are lovely and melodic guitar emanations over slowly pounding rhythmic progressions and atmospheric effects, fairly typical of Epic Doom Metal. However, the work tangentially reminds of the warmer tones of mid-90’s progressive metal experimentations via Dark Millennium or Disaffected as well. Being both somber and colorful at the same time is quite a feat, especially at this tempo. Yet, something is missing here, or more accurately: there is too much.

The album can be broken up into thirds by way of two extended instrumentals (the rather nice and expansive piano journey of ‘Là où le rêve et le jour s'effleurèrent’ and the somewhat redundant but still involving ‘La persistència de la memòria’), with the longest vocal cuts as bookends. The length of the instrumentals is nevertheless inflated, and somewhat slows the progression of aggression in the metal present. As shorter vignettes (a common choice in heavy metal, but a wise one) the momentum could survive intact. In the same way, ‘The Sleep of Reason’ and its more moderated length might be template the band could visit in the future, as it also ends up being the most immediate of all the cuts in the batting order because it gets to the point relatively quickly. That point could lead the band in many different directions.

The big guitar chugging near the end of ‘Nowhere is Here’ is pretty radical as a stop gap between two longer and more drawn out passages, and eases a bit of the fatigue that could have set in at the quarter hour mark. A more direct attack is also well employed throughout the massive ‘Metamorphosis,’ which has an entrancing urgency that is missing in other tracks, becoming another highlight on the very first listen. The guitar soloist sounds truly inspired here as does the rest of the band. The use of “2001: A Space Odyssey” themes and imagery are melded well to the relative intensity, culminating in an effective echoing guitar coda. A little variation can go a long way in lengthy tracks. While on the topic of lyrics, it is important to point out that while being a bit workmanlike, are tailor-made to fit the music and the presentation. There is a mixture of choir-like clean vocals akin to what mid-period Enslaved did, the semi-sung narrations and tough growls that are ordered and placed quite well throughout the compositions.

This is a very polished and well played release, but in order to fully occupy the lofty realms in which it invokes, there needs to be some more in the way of experimentation and even risk taking. It of course is up to the artists to decide what to do with their work. This is especially true in the worlds of underground music: nobody does this stuff for big bucks. The artcraft is paramount, and Vin De Mia Trix are obviously committed and should be commended on their ambition.

Originally Published In Metalegion Magazine:
www.metalegion.com/content/issue-1/

Very interesting and atmospheric - 84%

KC, August 17th, 2014
Written based on this version: 2013, Digital, Solitude Productions (Bandcamp)

Vin De Mia Trix is such a beautiful band. Rarely do you come across such evocative and progressive doom metal music. It’s at once remindful of Ennui, especially the band’s recent material. In that, it’s almost as wistful and employs stirring leads to create a dramatic effect against the backdrop of plodding, despondent music. The band doesn’t seem to adhere to the firm funeral doom metal template and like Esoteric, dabbles in areas outside the box. Its path isn’t a well-worn one and it seeks to explore different methods for expressing the music. It requires patience but it isn’t something that’s off-kilter or too artistic – to deem so is almost unfair. Quercus is one that’s truly artistic without probably giving a shit for the conventional norm but in comparison this Ukrainian band is a lot more digestible and atmospheric. More importantly, the music has sentient emotions and tangible ones at that. It just requires some time to wrap your head around it as the music slowly and elegantly unfurls its facets. It’s not as if it requires effort either – it’s just naturally moving, floating through almost, and all you have to do is give it a chance. It’s mesmerizing, slow yet striking and it’s hard not to get moved or stunned into silence when this is on.

Already the band is better than the stereotypical funeral doom metal bands because it’s delving into a more atmospheric style, one without the fundamental underpinnings. Where it goes off tangent is when clean mournful almost vocals are employed, changing the pattern of the music. At such times that band is vaguely reminiscent of My Dying Bride circa ‘The Angel and the Dark River’. It seems a little misplaced as does the momentum hampering instrumental songs right between the important ones of the album. They’re like unnecessary breaks in a suspenseful movie that has managed to intrigue you from the opening tunes. Once you’re off the track, it’s a little difficult to get back on it, especially when it comes to this style of music. It’s already so slow and moody, it better do more to capture and more importantly, retain your attention.

There’s even a band member of Kauan, which is one of the most magnificent bands in existence especially during the ‘Aava Tuulen Maa’ era. The melodies are sublime but consistency would’ve made this album all the more special. It already is in a way phenomenal and doing something that most bands aren’t. It’s about time someone does something different in this doom metal style of music and Vin De Mia Trix is doing it remarkably well. Indeed, this is an outstanding release with shades of melancholy and beautiful if gentle pacing so as to fully enhance the emotions it’s trying to portray on a canvas rarely used.

The artwork is something you don’t see every day – the pattern is unique, as is the pattern of the song structuring. Or the song placement. Almost every song is important and some are more patient unlike me. There is an underlying theme almost as the music suggests because it’s somewhat unpredictable till the last song. The death metal influences are there and the music oscillates between the heavier and mellower parts but not in a jarring way, rather in a way that’s symbolic of life where chaos and tranquility have to be endured. You can’t take anything for granted. Nor can you afford to miss out on this gem of an album that deserves a place in your collection simply on its merit of daring originality or a valiant attempt to bend the norm.


Originally online at Transcending Obscurity -
www.transcendingobscurity.com

A largely tedious blur. - 51%

ConorFynes, July 7th, 2014

If anything is most clear to me while writing this, it's that Vin de Mia Trix wrote and recorded Once Hidden from Sight with the best of intentions. Impressions of melancholy and inner-looking sadness seep from every moment of the Ukrainian act's debut. Though the death-doom hybrid genre is rarely known for its urgency, Vin de Mia Trix's painfully slow hour-long testament to woe and solitude seeks to test the listener's patience. Through their plodding pace, predictable dynamics and atmospheric focus, Vin de Mia Trix come off as a sort of Esoteric-lite, at times echoing the twisted spirit of the UK masters, but often coming up empty in terms of satisfying song structure and convention. Once Hidden from Sight is the end-result of some not inconsiderable effort at the hands of its craftsmen, but the homogeneous sequence of similarly melodic, brooding melodies and chord progressions grows tiring long before the album is over.

If I might enlist the help of a tactical cliché, Vin de Mia Trix have bitten off more than they can chew here. It's a fairly common misstep in the case of debuts, really; a band conceivably has all the time in the world to make a first album, and it's perfectly understandable they would want first impressions to reflect the variety of material they have to offer. In this case, Vin de Mia Trix apparently spent three years piecing their opus together. As one might imagine, the result of which offers plenty of well-crafted, powerful ideas. Once Hidden from Sight seldom departs from its sombre, plodding tempo, but the band has still managed to feature an unwieldly number of concepts per song. The potentially Arthur Conan Doyle-inspired "A Study in Scarlet" is a little more concrete than the rest (thanks to a cautious build-up and enticing lead motif), but the compositions lack a clear sense of rising action. Most of Vin de Mia Trix's take on the 'emotive death-doom' formula can be described as a leisurely game of pass between growled vocals and melodic guitar leads, the likes of which being just as sombre as you might expect. Of that latter half of their sound, there is another dichotomy; a game between the 'heavy' parts typical of death-doom aesthetic, and lighter (yet every bit as depressive) instrumental ambiance. This theme of duality runs heavily throughout the album, not least of all on the cover, which evokes the perennial concept of the 'yin-yang'. There's plenty of thoughts and concepts to be gleaned from Once Hidden from Sight- like I said, the album is a work of some considerable thought and effort. What's ultimately lacking is the structure and urgency that would have made these concepts otherwise exciting.

In jamming their compositions with as many likesounding ideas as possible, Vin de Mia Trix have inadvertently accomplished the exact opposite of what I presume they were aiming for. Instead of constantly refreshing and stimulating me as a listener, it becomes all-too easy to drift off; the ideas begin to blur together, and with that, the potential for true emotional impact is gutted. Perhaps not surprisingly, the track that has impressed me most is the one that truly stands out from the rest. "Là où le rêve et le jour s’effleurèrent" possesses the same sleepy vibe as the band's doom material, but it draws from a much different musical palette- in this case being Romantic-era classical piano. For a few minutes, Vin de Mia Trix absolve themselves of all potential comparisons to My Dying Bride and other doom stalwarts; instead, I'm reminded of the work of composer Frédéric Chopin. I really enjoy the musical risk Vin de Mia Trix took with this departure; even so, the track feels detached from the rest of the album, and would have been more effective had the band found a way to properly integrate it with their regular style.

Vin de Mia Trix's seemingly rhapsodic dive into doom is promising and- save for occasionally muffled-sounding production- well-executed. I am certain there is a great album lurking somewhere within Once Hidden from Sight, and there are times where I even get audible hints of it here. Unfortunately, Vin de Mia Trix's 'everything but the kitchen sink' approach to the death-doom style is frustrating moreso than anything. An album with this many individual melodic ideas usually takes many listens before it starts to feel familiar. The problem here is that Once Hidden from Sight isn't engaging enough to warrant all that listening. Vin de Mia Trix are ambitious and well-intentioned here, but their failure to condense and energize the music has resulted in an album that frankly challenges the listener's patience more than anything.

Overdone … and too arty - 55%

oneyoudontknow, February 19th, 2014

Ambitious … yes, ambitious seems to be a proper term for describing the performance of the band on this recording. Ambitious. A glance over the track list reveals this aspect readily. Also the name of the band fits into this perception quite neatly. Therefore, the aspect of putting all elements, facets and impressions together into a coherent picture is anything but easy. Is the track title of the opener a reference to the eponymous Sherlock Holmes novel? Why do the instrumentals have French titles? Actually, why are these instrumentals necessary at all? And why this odd use of characters for the last composition? What does मातृ (mātṛ) even refer to? Yet all of these issues should be put aside for a moment, because one should ask whether the music can even be of such quality as to be on par with the speculations that arise from these impressions?

Three years in the making – according to the bandcamp entry, the band spent this time frame for the creation of this album. Yet it feels somewhat odd to read this, simply because what information can actually be gathered from this? With such a statement thrown towards the audience, is it not the case that the bar is set to considerably high(er) levels for the band? Especially as there seems to have been no reason to do so in the first place.

Anyway, the Ukrainians thought otherwise and dare to come over as somehow outré, novel and out of the ordinary. A Manichean surface, while the underlying basis lacks the proper pillars to back it up or rather support the necessary height. “Once Hidden from Sight” is by no means a bad release. Having been produced quite amply, the music is as such as to create a certain kind of fascination and to have enough facets to avoid some of the all too common pitfalls. With growls and clean vocals -- with a type of singing that is quite enjoyable and harmonious -- enough facets and contrasts are created to keep all going. Yet, this is just one facet. Undoubtedly most would admit and agree, but Vin de Mia Trix leave the listener alone in the desert at times. In barren fields to which the music tends to turn at times but also abandon all too often. Là où le rêve et le jour s’effleurèrent (track number three) and La persistència de la memòria (track number six) are both non-metal instrumentals and each of a considerable length. Somehow they meander along, bereft of any connection to whatever basis that might have ever been. Like a riddle with too many clues to unravel the mysteries of its core. Aside from this, also the other compositions are by no means loaded with metal parts. As can be suspected from a band of this genre – doom and death metal –, calm moments with less emphasis on the heaviness and aggressiveness make a distinct part of the concept of the band. This alone is not what is there to criticise. It is the amount in which it all plays out and the total share of it in comparison with other elements. At this point the Ukrainians loose the touch with the audience.

It is difficult to take a dive into the flow of the melodies, because there is a constant disruption of it. Be it in or at times even between the compositions, Vin de Mia Trix demand a considerable amount of attention from the listener, would this person attempt to grasp the meaning of it all in its fullest and on how all can be interpreted. Sadly this has an effect on all that should be praised about this album. Indeed, there are some nice melodies and arrangements at times, also the vocals tend to have a special touch to them. There are even some rare moments in which all hangs together nicely and coherently. But in the end their share drowns in an endless sea of pointless calmness, whose part drags all down into a realm of sedated activity.

Bottom line:
Arty – feel free to interpret this term as you wish and desire.