Friday, September 20, 2013

Veles - Night on the Bare Mountain (1995)

The first full-length album from Veles, Night on the Bare Mountain, is a bit of a disappointment. Released in July 1995, this record fails to really live up to the promise shown on the band's previous work, coming across as more tame and bland than most would have expected. It possesses several flaws, and even the performance itself is kind of restrained and boring.

To begin with, this record suffers from very poor production. This is not bad in the sense of being lo-fi and raw, it's just kind of clumsy-sounding. The guitars possess no edge, whatsoever. This, alone, renders the recording flat and non-threatening. The different guitar tracks are quite uneven, as well. The vocals are a bit high in the mix, especially considering how weak the rest is. The clean guitar passages are done well enough, not sounding awkward or out of place, as is sometimes the case.

One need look no further than the re-recorded version of "Majesty of War" to realize that this band lost its edge. Not only is the sound softer than on The Triumph of Pagan Beliefs, but the execution is less-inspired and has no feeling behind it. Such is the case with much of the rest of this material. The songwriting is pretty generic, sounding like a mixture of mediocre ideas taken from various better-known bands. "My Bloodthirst (The Horrorstorm)" has its moments, but any potential that this may have had was ruined by the lousy production, which completely neuters the whole album. In some cases, one guitar track is so far in the background that the melodies are unable to really have any effect. If you listen close, it becomes apparent that these cold tremolo riffs would actually add a bit to the atmosphere. Instead, we get rather pointless synth that fails to do what traditional instruments should have been able to accomplish. Even the vocalist is sub-par, sounding as if his voice is going to give out at any second.

Night on the Bare Mountain is fairly average, even by 1995 standards, and it lacks the intensity of its predecessor. Production-wise, it suffers the same fate as Graveland's Thousand Swords, sounding very dull and weak. Perhaps, better songwriting would have been able to overcome this setback, but such is not the case with the debut L.P. from Veles. This is not a terrible album, but it could have been much better. It's worth checking out, maybe, but don't expect anything along the lines of The Celtic Winter.