Review Summary: Ved Buens Ende’s first demo stands as testament of an extreme metal band that comes ridiculously close in realizing a quantum leap towards a sound simply unthinkable.
Rainbows are one of nature’s most spectacular sights, the immaculate interface between fire and water that results in the separation of white light to its constituent bright and colorful components. However, rainbows aren’t solely bright and colorful. By the end of the rainbow (=Ved Buens Ende in Norwegian), the only existing color is the dark gray of the stormy sky. Ved Buens Ende first demo tape, Those who Caress the Pale
, is the first known musical transmission from their territory, accounting for the avant-garde part of the extreme metal spectrum and aiming to make its distinct mark.
What do Ved Buens Ende accomplish with Those who Caress the Pale
The element of surprise for VBE lies in that they endorse a heretic way of composing music, within the extreme metal spectrum. Instead of using the classic black metal songwriting elements (blastbeat drumming, the “monotonous” ultra-fast riffing in different climaxes and the corresponding vocals for the genre), VBE arrange their affairs differently.
They build their songs mostly on slow, abstract, spirally revolving and dissonant riffs that reveal themselves from a thin wall of white noise fuzz, only to disappear in it the next moment. Furthermore, it is more than obvious that the band’s guitarist, Vicotnic, composed those riffs with an acoustic guitar, a subtlety that adds up significantly to their impact, in terms of eeriness and melancholy. However, VBE give in as well, to the monotonous ultra-fast black metal riffing, only to provide a temporary way out from the musical fog they create in prior stages per song.
The drums follow the ways of the guitars from a distance, not talking however the same language. When the riffs are slow, they are mesmerizingly ritualistic, while essentially technical at the same time. Carl Michael Eide’s drum playing is ridiculously dense and the listener is prompt to pay attention to the abstract way he makes the cymbals sound, keeping them constantly “out” of the main rhythm. When things get rough, Eide’s blastbeat drumming is the real treat, with the snare and the cymbals following different patterns. Skoll’s bass stands at the chasm formed between the drums and the guitars. Neither following the former or the latter, it carves a way of its own. The patterns that it upholds, may appear simplistic at first, however they are the exact opposite.
Last but not least, the vocals. The vocals are shared between Eide and Vicotnic. Eide’s parts are floating upon the calmer portions of the songs, for the most part. At times, he sounds like a crooner caught in a turmoil of cynicism, whereas at others he is a man, whose body is present and but his thought is lost to the far beyond. Vicotnic is pure evil made flesh, simple as that. His voice sounds as if it’s being processed through machines, and the feeling that it transmits is unconditional nihilism.
The sound production is dirty and fuzzy, however every instrument is readily audible (the bass patterns are a sheer delight). The band has a very tight performance, constituting, probably, the first avant-garde/black metal trio in history.
Having said the above, is this demo EP free from flaws? No. In 1 or 2 songs, the genuine way that the band composes its music is somewhat compensated. This compensation takes place either by the implementation of generic elements from “classic” heavy metal (listen to the track “A Mask in the Mirror”) or the decent but somewhat generic (with respect to the rest of the songs that is) song structures (listen to “The Plunderer”).
All in all, Ved Buens Ende’s Those Who Caress The Pale
stands as testament of an extreme metal band coming ridiculously close in realizing a quantum leap towards a sound simply unthinkable. But that’s another tale to tell…