Well, with this mysterious occult black drone/ambient doom act from Boston, USA the scenery is the grim one …The band is recent as the conspiracy started in 2011. However occult books and whispers reveal that the unholy priests involved are not at all new to the scene. The line-up includes three mysterious entities, Khristos Phero Ocheron de Chauve-Souris (on vocals, bass, guitar, ukelin, drums, organ and ambience), Baron Corpulus Lazerus VI (on drums, vocals and ambience) and Chancellor Baal Adramelech (on vocals and ambience). A description was given of them: “(…) They are described as thin, with long white mustaches, pointed ears and sharp teeth. They are dressed all in black and have hair on their palms. Mehemet Bey described them as old men; 'cruel looking' and giving an effect of 'extraordinary pallor”.
Velvet Robe is related to the fine underground label Yersinia Pestis Records. This is the same label spreading around some great releases like, for example, the Ice Dragon vs. Pilgrim split, the new awesome LP version of Ice Dragon’s debut album, or reissues of seminal italian occult black-death metal bands like Necromass and Mortuary Drape. Yersinia Pestis released Velvet Robe’s debut album, the now sold out limited de-luxe edition 2011 tape "La Seance Haunted". The album is also firmly settled in Bandcamp as well where recently (April 2012)Velvet Robe shared a new release, the Bartzabel’s Fire 7” EP.
The band describes its sound and style as “odd and creepy”, a “mixture of Ride For Revenge and Moss”, although undeniable sympathies go to retro horror experimental/prog acts like Antonius Rex and Jacula, occult (funeral) doom, experimental industrial noise, dark ambient and, definitely, horror movies. The result is a hybrid beast which sounds like a blackened and suffocating version of Electric Wizard but also shares features with bands like Reclusa, Hell, Moss, SunnO))), as well as Adamennon, Lustmord, and some acts worth of Crucial Blast’s roster. In the debut album "La Seance Haunted", the sequence of tracks and the shift between spoken parts (with creepy low distorted voice), samples from movies and songs are arranged as to act as a soundtrack to an old-fashioned horror movie, or nightmare, where all bad things and sinister deeds are suggested as taking place in a mossy vault at the trembling light of candles arranged in a circle …
This gloomy rhythm, into the context of the whole album, also much reminds me of the oscillatory movement of the heavy pendulum at the Louvre Museum in Paris as described in the final tragic chapter of one of my top fave books ever, the creepy, intricated, occult novel “Foucault’s Pendulum” by the Italian writer Umberto Eco. Real funeral bells and the invocations of the dark voice introduce to the next section of the album which includes a series of tracks which heavily mix spoken parts, samples from movies, extreme prog, dark ambient, and really disturbing blackened industrial noise drone blended with funeral doom (e.g., in Kharsis Lives). The gloomy suite “The Gods Forget, They Are Distant, They Must be Reminded” is probably the most varied of the whole album and even hosts a central part lead by a hypnotic mid-paced raw industrial doom rhythm that imparts an unusual dynamics to the ritual before its waning phase is announced by the dark, drony, retro-sounding organ-driven bleak melody in track “La Torre Diavolo”. A hieratic invocation by the creepy thundering voice and the sample of organ from an old movie will put an end to the ritual.
Velvet Robe’s debut couldn’t and can’t but arise interest and generate pleasure into those attracted by dark, occult slow and raw heavy music. The only objection I move to La Seance haunted is the excessive use of samples and spoken parts penalizing the musical parts. Every time I listened to La Séance I longed for more of those evil drony industrial funeral doom slabs.
… And my desire was satisfied! The Bartzabel’s Fire 7” that Velvet Robe posted on Bandcamp is only slighly longer than 10 minutes but it is exactly what I wanted to hear! Two doses of utterly nasty blackened industrial/drone horror doom where the ritualistic component of the previous album is recalled just in the short spoken intro of the sophomore track. After those few spoken invocation Pure Evil raises from the depths of Earth! A pervasive buzzing background noise envelops the extremely distorted riffs and the exploding percussions.
A filthy, sick and extremely obscure nightmareish sound is created where evil, raw, “primitive”, scary sludgy black metal screams are nested, as heard in Reclusa, Bruja and similar bands, as well as in bass-driven Ride For Revenge (absolutely), in Void Meditiation Cult or Teitanblood. The second track “The Door at the end of the Hall” brings back some somber occult atmosphere as in the debut album by means of a hypnotic drone-doom leading melody. However in this new release the ability of the band in creating impressively scary atmopheres stands out and, for me, shows a great improvement. Probably a help came from the production as well as from the stabilization of the line-up, with the inclusion of the new drummer. However one of the improvements, for me, is related to the wider space given to the “real” music in evoking mightmares instead of excessive employment of vintage movie samples. The nightmares, the monsters evoked by the new tracks by Velvet Robe are “modern” and ancestral at the same time, and they are not human …So the new tracks by this occult and nasty entity, Velvet Robe, seem to mark an evolution towards an impressive sound incorporating and elaborating elements from different alienating genres but without straying from doom and its intrinsic sense of melody. I am a nasty old witch and I obviously possess a magic glass ball. So you can trust me if I tell you that more excellent haunting evil darkness is coming from this mysterious occult trio from Boston! So keep label Yersinia Pestis checked for a new black mass …
Words by Marilena Moroni
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Video of In Visible Shadows from “La Séance Haunted”.