Lurkers in the Capsule of Skull

Imagine heavy metal as a city. A city in, say, a cheesy 1980s film. You can walk down the streets and you’ll encounter the nice part of town. You have your Slipknot, Metallica, Avenged Sevenfold. The mainstream stuff. That’s fine, but on this day, you came to the city to try something else. Something dangerous. Without thinking, you go down a dark alleyway wondering if this might be a mistake. In only a few paces, you encounter a tall mustachioed man wearing one of those long trench coats you just know holds the good stuff. You make eye contact as you start to stride past, but he grabs your arm, pulls you back, and gives you a fair warning; “If you go past here, you’ll never come back. Down there lies the filthiest, nastiest sites you’ll ever see.” Since you’re a smart ass, you reply with; “What? Like your mother?!”

The mustachioed man gives you a shot right to the kidney before you can blink. Wincing in pain, you decide to heed this man’s warning. After all, you can trust a man who is willing to punch a mother fucker for simply talking trash on his fuckin’ mother. You decide to converse with this man.

Instinctively, he opens his jacket, revealing what you never knew you needed. Imperial Triumphant, Pyrrhon, Portal, and what’s this at the bottom? “Veilburner?” You ask. The man nods his head and says; “Excellent choice, friend.” He gives you the cassette, headphones, and sends you on your way. The man cackles in the background, but you’re too busy listening to the album to notice, despite the fact that those headphones are bulky, corded, and have the foam ear pieces on them, likely coated with someone else’s ear wax. You can hear everything if you want. After all, it’s the 80s.

Did I lose you? Veilburner might do that to you. If you couldn’t guess from the above, Veilburner are pretty extreme. Much like the other bands listed above, though, they tend to weave odd bits of melody into their music. While it may sound oppressive at first, and it certainly is, it begins to bore its way into your head little by little. Friends, this isn’t a “first listen and you’ll get it” experience.

Take for example, tracks 1 and 2, “In the Tomb of Dreaming Limbo,” and “Nocturnal Gold,” which is obviously about gold that only comes out at night. On the former, it’s cacophonic, harsh, cavernous death metal, until the song breaks into a groove, which accompanies the lead guitar section, and continues for the duration. On the latter, there’s a bass guitar (or guitar) melody I at first found annoying at the beginning of the track, but it continues to weave its way in and out of the song until it becomes catchy, and the most memorable part.

On the title track, which is track 4, “Lurkers in the Capsule of Skull,” you’re greeted with immediate blasting, an odd melody, and feral vocal lines. That odd melody sort of takes over behind the vocals and blasting for a moment if you’re paying attention. Sure, there are what I would call further slithering melodic breaks later, but for the most part, it’s an unrelenting beast, and very worthy of being dubbed the title track.

In total, there are 8 tracks on display here, and I want to finally cross the threshold into talking about that eighth one, “Dissonance in Bloom.” There could not be a song title more apt to describe this album. It’s one of the longer ones, nearly touching 8 minutes, but it’s also an album of 8 tracks and 53 minutes, so they are all a bit lengthy. While the vocals on this one are definitely still feral, there’s a ghostly quality in some portions. Like a fair amount of the material on display here, the lead sections are incredible, and are frequently the only reprieve from getting your face bashed in. On this one, however, there’s an extended intro, allowing you to ponder what you just encountered.

Here’s the truth. I am a little disappointed in not hearing some almost 80s inspired pop vocals such as the ones on their previous album. This is heavy, oppressive, feral, unhinged, and yet somehow musical. To me, it’s the most musical album I’ve heard of this death metal sub-genre, which is saying something. It’s something you’ll enjoy, but only when you’ve given it several tries. You’re a little scared, but mostly because you liked it. Next time you’re in the city, maybe you’ll go down that dark alleyway again. Maybe you’ll listen to some more Veilburner. Or maybe you’ll listen to some of the others that man has in his jacket. Worse still, perhaps you’ll now stride past him, morbidly curious at what could possibly be nastier than this… and you’ll probably never come back.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by J Mays
August 12th, 2021


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