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Dies Irae: Secret Veils of Passion

There are many bands out there that use, or have used the Dies Irae name over the years. Perhaps the most common group using the monicker is the Death Metal act from Poland. When I received an e-mail about a new album from Dies Irae, I immediately thought it was that region’s version, and a smile went from ear to ear. However, I quickly learned I was wrong, but still was intrigued. Secret Veils of Passion is actually from the Mexican based group that broke up in 2002, but recently reformed. Finding them on-line initially listed as a Melodic Death Metal group, then turning into an Atmospheric Post-Rock act, I was curious to see what the leap could be like, but never really was able to acquire the previous albums. However, Chaos Records picked up the band to issue Secret Veils of Passion to the world in early 2012.

Right now, I’m holding off on reviewing albums from 2012 due to the horrible backlog I have from this current year [2011], but I did still want to sink my teeth into this once obscure band’s music. Secret Veils of Passion does start off with a rather atmospheric introduction to “Want” that honestly made me think it was going to head into Jazz territory. I actually braced myself for it and readies for either a great transition, or very rocky one. This isn’t what happened though, and instead the music comes through with a more toned down Melodic Death Metal output with some Progressive guitar work that gives a slightly depressing tone to the track. The music itself isn’t anything too jarring, but it still has enough of an edge that you can accept for it’s more laid back sound until the very end of the track where it picks up and the clean singing is replaced with screaming. However, the first of those two styles really feels a little lacking on the song, being a more mono, docile approach with bad layering or backing vocals that kind of give an “I don’t care…” attitude to it.

But, the catchy music meshes nicely together with the start of the next song, “To,” and once again we are given a highly atmospheric piece. It seems like an instrumental that tries to go into epic territory due to the additional horns being used that clearly can be recognized as a keyboard, and pretty bad at times too, with some spoken word dialogue that is a little harmonized against it all. The deeper voice and lack of backing or layering actually makes it stand up a little stronger, and the slight echo sounds great on it. This would have suited “Want” perfectly, and it’s sad that it doesn’t happen. It is nice to see that the band is trying to connect all of the songs together through nice transitions between one song to another, as “Tree” is cut into from “To” in a similar manner as before. Again the band pushes the atmosphere, and it’s very laid back sound is actually quite enjoyable and soothing, though the higher chords being played in the background can get a little annoying by the half way point. There’s also some higher pitched vocals that appear which seem a bit comical, all of which really makes you start to wonder what the direction of the album is, and if the band is trying to be a bit experimental or Avant-Garde with their material.

“For” actually kind of breaks the pattern by not being bled into from “Tree,” and ushers in the band’s Melodic Death Metal sound once more. The more traditionally inspired sound comes through pretty strong despite the obvious lesser quality audio production not quite capturing the material too well, but that can be overlooked given how well the music itself is handled and still comes through. The screaming vocals are pretty good, and after the previous tracks can take a few moments to appreciate again. The guitar solo here is very well done and well worth making note of, actually bringing in a bit of a Rock sound with it while the bass and drums hold the fort down to keep the song rich while this goes on. It doesn’t really feel like this track actually finishes, but goes into more of a slower paced tribal drum beat fused closing. This track, again, bleeds into “Fight,” which is an acoustic passage just like “Want” that eventually goes into a stronger sixties, seventies Stoner Rock territory, organ in the background and all, though still mixed with more of a modern Alternative Rock style ballad.

As a side note about the album, all the song titles are words that kind of reflect the pronunciation of the track number. Track one is “Want,” two is “To,” five is “Fight,” eight is “Hate,” and so on. This isn’t anything too noteworthy, but perhaps shows the band trying to take on a different route with the music by going in a more Progressive Metal path since this is something one might expect from bands of that style, as well as just with the music being played. And, honestly, if this isn’t meant to be more of a Progressive fueled journey, then I’ll honestly be surprised.

The first half of Secret Veils of Passion may not be the most amazing, but still found it be a solid experience. Sure, it seems each song kind of has it’s faults, but when you look at it more as a Progressive release, some of those things do make sense. I’m honestly more anxious to hear the rest of the album now then when I went into it. The fluid progression from the first track to the last one I heard, aside the sudden stop at the end of “Tree,” really helps to make it all seem like just well done longer tracks seperated into smaller songs due to the way the music will shift. This is clearly a rather raw album, and it honestly shows in the audio quality, which is kind of where the album seems to have some problems lurking around, largely in the vocals due to the way the backing or layering is handled on them. But, so far, I’m interested to see what else the band has in store for me on the album, and I’m sure that this is going to be a release that will end up growing on me the more I listen to it. Mexico’s Dies Irae have returned and so far I’m impressed.

Article based on digital review material provided by Chaos Records.